MANUS ISLAND: Kurdish Iranian journalist and award-winning writer Behrouz Boochani will appear via video link at the Byron Writers Festival 2019.
MANUS ISLAND: Kurdish Iranian journalist and award-winning writer Behrouz Boochani will appear via video link at the Byron Writers Festival 2019. Ashley Gilbertson

Refugee, author to speak at festival from Manus Island

BYRON Writers Festival has confirmed Kurdish-Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani for in this year's Festival, appearing via livestream from Manus Island where he has been detained since 2013.

Boochani is the recipient of one of Australia's most prestigious literary prizes, The Victorian Prize for Literature.

It was awarded for his memoir No Friend But the Mountains, written secretly on a mobile phone, one text at a time.

Boochani, or MEG45 according to his government ID, is a Kurdish Iranian journalist and a refugee who arrived on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, on a boat on November 15, 2016.

Boochani has been held there for three years and four months.

In April, 2016, the journalist's refugee status was granted, and authorities attempted to move him to a different centre, where permanent settlement into Papua New Guinea as a refugee would take place, which he refused.

To avoid being forcibly moved, he climbed a tall tree inside the centre.

Boochani is the co-director, along with Iranian film maker Arash Kamali Sarvestani, of the documentary Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time. He has published numerous articles in leading media internationally about the plight of refugees held by the Australian government on Manus Island, and has won several awards.

Journalist Leigh Sales brings her book An Ordinary Day, about her personal near-death experience and other's points of view on events that have changed their lives.
Journalist Leigh Sales brings her book An Ordinary Day, about her personal near-death experience and other's points of view on events that have changed their lives. Daniel Boud

Byron Writers Festival has also confirmed celebrated Australian author Markus Zusak (Bridge of Clay), US-based author Min Jin Lee whose sweeping four-generation saga of a Korean family Pachinko was a New York Times best-seller, and Walkley Award-winning journalist Leigh Sales who will share insights from her powerful book Any Ordinary Day.

Also appearing will be Sisonke Msimang (The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela), the daughter of South African freedom fighters, and Tara June Winch, whose new novel The Yield narrates is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed: Aboriginal Australia.

The Festival will welcome back award-winning writer Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu) whose vast knowledge of Aboriginal agriculture captivated 2016 Festival audiences.

 

Also in the line up are Byron Shire resident, advocate for good health and the environment Damon Gameau (2040: A Handbook for the Regeneration), writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law (Growing Up Queer in Australia) and beloved children's author and illustrator Alison Lester.

Festival Director Edwina Johnson was thrilled to offer a preview of what's in store for this year's festival, with more announcements to come.

"Whatever your passion, be it fiction, the environment, social issues, poetry or politics, the Festival has something to inspire and entertain you. We look forward to welcoming audiences from near and far to a vibrant three-day gathering in one of the world's most beautiful coastal locations," she said.

Early Bird tickets are on sale for one week only from May 8 to 14.

Byron Writers Festival is being held from August 2 to 4. The full program will be announced on June 12. For details visit byronwritersfestival.com.



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