In conversation with Behrouz Boochani

From the team that produced No Friend but the Mountains. Writing from Manus Prison (2018), comes Freedom, Only Freedom: The Prison Writings of Behrouz Boochani, translated and edited by Omid Tofighian and Monne Mansoubi. Both will be involved an introduction to the book before a conversation between Behrouz and Alex Sloan followed by Q&A.

Over six years of imprisonment on Australia's offshore migrant detention centre, the Kurdish Iranian journalist and writer Behrouz Boochani bore personal witness to the suffering and degradation inflicted on him and his fellow refugees, culminating eventually in his prize-winning book No Friend but the Mountains which was painstakingly typed out in text messages while he was incarcerated.

In the articles, essays, and poems he wrote while detained, he emerged as both a tenacious campaigner and activist, as well as a deeply humane voice which speaks for the indignity and plight of the many thousands of detained migrants across the world.

In this book, his collected writings are combined with essays from experts on migration, refugee rights, politics, and literature. Together, they provide a moving, creative, and challenging account of not only one writer's harrowing experience and inspiring resilience, but the wider structures of violence which hold thousands of human beings in a state of misery in migrant camps throughout the Western nation-states and beyond.

Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate and filmmaker. Boochani was a writer and editor for the Kurdish language magazine Werya in Iran. He is a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck Law School; Associate Professor in Social Sciences at UNSW; Honorary Member of PEN International; and winner of an Amnesty International Australia 2017 Media Award, the Diaspora Symposium Social Justice Award, the Liberty Victoria 2018 Empty Chair Award, and the Anna Politkovskaya award for journalism.

He publishes regularly with The Guardian, and his writing also features in The Saturday Paper, Huffington Post, New Matilda, The Financial Times and The Sydney Morning Herald. His book, No Friend but The Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison won the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature in addition to the Nonfiction category. He has also won the Special Award at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards, the Australian Book Industry Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, and the National Biography Prize.

Alex Sloan AM, the 2017 Canberra Citizen of the Year, is a regular conversationalist for ANU Meet the Author events. Alex is a Director and Deputy Chair of Australia's progressive think-tank, The Australia Institute, Director of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and Director and Deputy Chair of the ACT Writers Centre.

Omid Tofighian, Adjunct Lecturer in the School of the Arts and Media, UNSW, is an award-winning lecturer, researcher and community advocate, combining philosophy with interests in citizen media, popular culture, displacement and discrimination. He is affiliated with University of New South Wales and Birkbeck Law, University of London. He is the translator of Behrouz Boochani's multi-award-winning autobiographical novel No Friend but the Mountains.

Monne Mansoubi is a community, arts and cultural development worker based in Sydney. Her work is dedicated mainly to supporting and collaborating with migrants and people seeking asylum in Australia. She has managed numerous community and cultural projects, and the first translation of Behrouz Boochani's work when he began writing from Manus Island. She is currently coordinator of the Community Refugee Welcome Centre in Inner West Sydney and a content producer for SBS Radio, Persian program.

The vote of thanks will be given by Sophie Singh, a Canberra based activist working for refugee rights and a fundamental change to Australia's policies towards refugees and people seeking asylum. Sophie has been part of the Canberra Refugee Action Campaign since 2003.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.

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