Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Members statements

Behrouz Boochani

Samantha RATNAM

Behrouz Boochani

Samantha RATNAM (Northern Metropolitan) (13:08): Over the last month Kurdish journalist and writer Behrouz Boochani has been visiting Australia advocating against Australia’s punishment of people seeking asylum and refuge. I had the privilege of hearing him speak at the Kurdish democratic community centre in my electorate. Behrouz Boochani describes himself first as a writer, but his activism on the Kurdish struggle is now inextricably linked to his life and work. He spoke about how the Kurds continue to be subjected to assimilation and their continued struggle for cultural survival. We also spoke and acknowledged the devastation that the Kurdish, Syrian and Turkish people have experienced in the wake of earthquakes and shared their heartbreak, knowing that marginalised groups were likely to suffer even more gravely. He shared his reflections on the plight of thousands like him who sought asylum in Australia only to be met with the horrors of indefinite detention. At the time of his visit nearly 30,000 people were still waiting for the new Labor government to grant them permanent protection. The week after he visited Parliament, Labor finally acted. I thank the minister for immigration for his care and commitment in fulfilling this promise.

While nothing can console the loss of life and years and the pain that people like Behrouz have endured, I thank him for his advocacy. His bravery politicised people like me, and we tried to use every word he was able to broadcast from Manus Island to fight for political change in Australia. While we know that change is too slow, too late and not enough for the thousands of lives that our immigration policies have destroyed, people like Behrouz Boochani have changed Australia forever and for the better, and for that we are grateful.