2019 Australia: Behrouz Boochani

On World Refugee Day, Norwegian PEN and PEN International calls upon the Australian government and international community to respect the rights of award-winning writer, film-maker and journalist Behrouz Boochani and the world’s most vulnerable refugees by providing adequate protection and more resettlement places. Six years after being forcibly transferred to Manus Island, Behrouz Boochani remains stranded on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. With his pen and camera Behrouz Boochani has shone a light on the horror, cruelty and injustice of Australian state policy towards refugees and asylum seekers. Writers, journalists and all people fleeing for their lives have the right to ask the international community for a safe place to make a new home.

On behalf of Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee, Jørgen Lorentzen has written the following letter to the Prime Minister of Australia:


Hon. Scott Morrison MP,
Prime Minister of Australia,
PO Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House,
Canberra ACT 2600, Australia

Oslo, June 20th, 2019

Dear Hon. Scott Morrison,

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is deeply concerned about the situation of Behrouz Boochani. Boochani is a Kurdish Iranian journalist, award-winning writer and film-maker. We ask you to make resettlement arrangements for Boochani and all other migrants and asylum seekers currently located on Manus Island and Nauru, in line with international law.

We also ask you to ensure that detention is a matter of last resort in cases where there are reasonable concerns for public safety or that the migrant may abscond, and  to inform detained migrants and asylum seekers in writing, in a language that they understand, of the reason for their detention, its duration, their right to have access to a lawyer, their right to promptly challenge their detention and their right to seek asylum.

It is important to ensure that migrants and asylum seekers have access to adequate medical care – including mental health services – adequate food, cloths, hygienic conditions.

Lastly, please end the criminalisation of criticism of Australia’s asylum procedures which amounts to a restriction of freedom of expression.

Yours sincerely,

Jørgen Lorentzen
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Australian Embassy in Norway