Behrouz Boochani Just Wants to Be Free
Recently granted refugee status and now living in Christchurch, Behrouz Boochani fled Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. He exposed Australia’s offshore detention camps – from the inside. He survived, stateless, for seven years. Author and journalist Megan Stack has written a profile piece on Boochani for The New York Times.
Arriving in New Zealand just before the earliest coronavirus infections emerged in China, Boochani had freed himself as people around the world were shut into quarantines, Stack writes for the newspaper. He sometimes thought that he had finally escaped detention and accidentally spread it all over the world. He wondered, too, whether this taste of extreme isolation might help people imagine more clearly the horror of being locked away. “People should understand now that life is not only food or having a bed,” he said. “We are nothing without people. Absolutely nothing, you know?”
The months slid past. Wait a few more weeks, Boochani was told. And then a few more weeks, and still more. Boochani wrote some short stories. Bought some new clothes. Took up biking.
Then, 23 July, Boochani’s birthday, he finally got word from his lawyer: His application had been accepted. Boochani could stay in New Zealand. He was free. It had been his birthday, too, the day he was lifted from the sea and taken into Australian custody. Stack remembered one of his stories: When he was born, his parents asked a visiting cousin who knew how to read to choose a name for the baby. The cousin opened a book and poked his finger onto the page at random, striking the word “Behrouz” – Farsi for “fortunate”. Literally, “good day”.
Original article by Megan Stack, The New York Times, August 4, 2020.
Photo by Birgit Krippner.