ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, who is currently detained by the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments on Manus Island, is unable to travel to the United Kingdom although he was appointed as a visiting professor by a London University.
“I am not able to move to [the] UK because they don’t let me go. It is like a hostage [situation], but I will push them to let me go,” the 36-year-old told Kurdistan 24.
“I have been participating [in] many conferences and events via Skype, and I will continue [to do] so.”
On Sept. 12, Boochani was appointed as a visiting law professor at the Birbeck, University of London.
Academics at Birkbeck Law School plan to build on the current inclusion of Boochani’s work in undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. His work is already required reading for Birkbeck law courses.
Through Skype, Boochani will participate in research and public engagement symposia on the legality and politics of immigration detention, the first of which will be the UK launch of Boochani’s prize-winning book “No Friend But The Mountains” in Spring 2020.
His debut autobiographical novel was published in 2018. It recounts his journey from Indonesia to Australia by boat, and later imprisonment on the Manus. Last month, he won Australia’s National Biography award for his book.
“During his internment on Manus Island, Mr. Boochani has survived great hardship and humiliation to become the most internationally recognized and respected voice of prisoners in the Australian ‘gulag archipelago,’” Professor Stewart Motha, Dean of the Birkbeck Law School, said.
“My colleagues and I very much look forward to building further links with Mr. Boochani. We urge the Australian Government to end its cruel and degrading treatment of refugees.”
This is Boochani’s first appointment at a European university. He already holds two visiting professorships at Australian institutions.
Boochani, an asylum seeker from the Kurdish city of Ilam, arrived in Australia by boat in 2013. He was immediately captured and transported to one of the country’s offshore immigration processing centers, located on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.
The Australian government has sent thousands of refugees to offshore processing and detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, in an attempt to deter people from entering Australia via boat.
“[For] over six years, I have been able to draw international attention to these hidden prisons, and I ask academics and researchers to work together to expose these horrific prison camps,” Boochani said in a statement.
“I thank Birkbeck, University of London for my new role as visiting professor; this is a significant form of recognition and support for my work, and it creates more opportunities for deep analysis of the border-industrial complex.”
He described his appointment as “the beginning of long-term collaborative action and research on Australia’s exile policy and related issues.”
Boochani is one of almost 600 refugees that reside on Manus’ camps, where the tough conditions that asylum seekers are subjected to have drawn widespread criticism.
Australia claims its policies are meant to stop deaths of refugees caused by traffickers who bring them for money on boats that are often unsafe and can capsize or sink.
Authorities at the processing centers are purportedly telling asylum seekers they would never be allowed on mainland Australia.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany