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Kurdish-Iranian Writer Behrouz Boochani Granted Refugee Status In New Zealand

Behrouz Boochani

Kurdish-Iranian writer Behrouz Boochani, who had been held in an Australian detention center for asylum seekers for six years, has been granted refugee status in New Zealand.

Immigration authorities confirmed the award-winning author has received refugee status, which will allow him to stay in the country, The New Zealand Herald reported on July 24.

Boochani, a journalist who fled Iran in 2013 under fear of persecution, has been in New Zealand since November, when he applied for refugee status after attending a literary festival.

Boochani gained fame in 2019 when he won the Victorian Prize for Literature, Australia's most prestigious literature prize, for his autobiography No Friend But The Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison.

In the book, Boochani details his journey after fleeing Iran, arriving from Indonesia to Australia's Christmas Island on a boat, and being detained by Australian authorities on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

He wrote the 374-page book using WhatsApp on his phone and sent hundreds of messages to translators and editors in Australia.

Following the closure of the Manus detention center in 2017, Boochani was moved to a detention center in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby.

New Zealand's Green Party, a coalition partner in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's government, welcomed the news.

"Today we celebrate New Zealand as a place where fairness and compassion prevails," said Green Party human rights spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman, who herself came to New Zealand as a child asylum seeker from Iran.

"He has faced persecution and torture at the hands of Iran's Islamic regime and whilst imprisoned on Manus Island, it is well overdue that he had a place where he is safe to put down roots," she said.

Australia has a controversial policy of intercepting asylum seekers at sea and putting them in offshore detention centers, where they are permanently barred from settling in Australia.

With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and The New Zealand Herald
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