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Manus Island refugee Behrouz Boochani delivers 2019 human rights lecture

Media release

Drawing on his remarkable life story, Manus Island refugee and winner of the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Literature, Behrouz Boochani, delivered the 2019 Annual Human Rights Lecture at Curtin University last night.

Mr Boochani, an Iranian-Kurdish journalist, human rights advocate, author, poet and film producer, spoke about the plight of refugees, sharing his own harrowing experiences as a refugee on Manus Island where he has been held since 2013.

Mr Boochani delivered the Curtin Annual Human Rights Lecture via live video link from Manus Island, sharing his personal refugee experience.

“It is a great honour for me to speak in this place,” Mr Boochani told the lecture.

“I am an Indigenous person, I am Kurdish and I was born in Kurdistan as a part of Iran, and all my life in Iran, I was living in discrimination and I understand deeply what colonialism means.

“What I see in Manus Island is a tragedy; without doubt it is a tragedy, because there are hundreds of people who are damaged physically and mentally.

“I don’t know what will happen but really we are tired of this system… for me, as an independent person, as an individual person, what is important is that I tell (the) truth and tell this story independently and that is why I think I will continue.”

Professor Baden Offord, Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University, said it was an honour to have Mr Boochani deliver this year’s Annual Human Rights Lecture.

“With Mr Boochani’s first-hand accounts and lived experience as a refugee, the public lecture provided a rare opportunity for the community to learn about the suffering and oppression that refugees are experiencing,” Professor Offord said.

“Amidst the numerous national and international reports by researchers, journalists, human rights organisations and parliamentary inquiries that have documented that suffering, the insider’s view provided by Behrouz Boochani is illuminating and deeply humanises the plight of vulnerable human beings.”

Mr Boochani’s public lecture follows previous distinguished speakers including the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, Former High Court Justice, the Honourable Michael Kirby and writer, academic, lawyer, media presenter and musician Waleed Aly.

Presented by Curtin University’s Centre for Human Rights Education, the 2019 Annual Human Rights Lecture was held at Curtin’s Elizabeth Jolley Lecture Theatre last night.