Asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani takes top Victorian literature prize

Behrouz Boochani

Contributed by Ugly

Kurdish asylum seeker from Iran and in detention on Manus Island, Behrouz Boochani, has just won the Victorian Prize for Literature, for his new novel called No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison.

His courage in speaking out about the terrible conditions at Manus, and his skill in conveying the human tragedy to the world has won him widespread acclaim.

If anyone truly deserves the honour, he is the one.

Behrouz Boochani sets the standard that should serve as a beacon for every journalist and writer.

No doubt, he will continue his battle to be the voice of those who have been incarcerated, because they had the misfortune to find themselves escaping persecution and war by boat, only to land where they are vilified and dehumanised by a government, using asylum seekers as a political diversion and testing ground for what it would like to apply within Australian society.  

Behrouz Boochani took out the top prize at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards on Thursday for his novel No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison.

As well as winning $100,000 for coming first, he also won the prize for non-fiction, worth $25,000.

“I don’t want to celebrate this achievement while I still see many innocent people suffering around me,” he said.

“This is why it’s a paradoxical feeling”.

This achievement is a reminder that there are others in detention, who have the potential to contribute a lot to Australia. It reminds us that these people are human beings like the rest of us and have the right to be treated humanely and with respect.

Until the locking of asylum seekers in virtual concentration camps is brought to and end, it diminishes Australia as a nation valuating human decency.

Behrouz Boochani is a symbol of what we must do.

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