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Urgent Statement by PEN Melbourne regarding Behrouz Boochani’s safety

June 17, 2019 IN WIP
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We are very concerned for the safety of detained Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been reporting from within Australia’s immigration detention centre on Manus Island for more than three years.

Over the past week he has reported on the death of Faysal Ishak Ahmed, an inmate in the detention centre, and more recently on the beating of two refugees by immigration officers and police on Manus Island.

On the 1/1/2016 local MP Ronny Knight tweeted a message that reads ‘Behrouz Boochani is a liar and has an agenda and should apologise to police… Boochani will be arrested for lying and insulting police’.

We call on the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments to honour their commitment to democracy including the right to free speech and to ensure Mr Boochani’s safety.

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International