Art as a form of cultural and political resistance in the daily lives of asylum seekers

altAuthors, artists, musicians’ and scholars engaged with Behrouz Boochani and his novel 'No friend but the Mountains' at the Greek Centre. In an exceptional evening in which artists, writers, scholars and musicians, engaged with, and celebrated the work of Kurdish-Iranian writer and journalist Behrouz Boochani, and his extraordinary novel, ‘No Friend but the Mountains’.

In this unique event that crossed oceans and cultural boundaries, Boochani appeared live online from the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, and his translator and collaborator, Omid Tofighian, live from Cairo.

The evening also featured an address from guest speaker, political activist and academic Professor Gary Foley and was opened by First Nations musician Bart Willoughby and Kurdish musician Fadil Suna. The event was hosted by Nikos Papastergiadis, Director of the Research Unit in Public Cultures at the University of Melbourne, Arnold Zable, writer and human rights advocate, Janet Galbraith, writer and refugee advocate, and award-winning photographer Hoda Afshar.

Guest speaker, Professor Gary Foley, called people to press the Australian Government to bring all refugees to Australia from Nauru and Manus. As he said it is a shame for Australia to have such a policy and to keep them detained in military camps for more than five years, highlighting that these asylum seekers who left their war-torn countries in search of a better future for themselves and their families.

The most important feature of this special event was the live interview with Bechrouz and Omid conducted by Janet Galbraith and Hoda Afshar.

During the live interview Boochani, spoke about the extraordinary living conditions in Nauru and Manus Island refugee camps, as well as the deprivation of freedom and human rights of the refugees as they remain detained and can not move to Australia.

Boochani spoke extensively about his new book “No friends but Mountains”. He answered a series of questions asked by Jane Galbraith, the coordinator of the conversation, about the content of his book, the messages he sends to his readers as well as about the techniques he uses and the specific language he developed around the refugee issue.

Academic Omid Tofighian answered questions in a live connection with Cairo, Egypt, about his collaboration with Boochani, his new book and also the refuge crisis.

Writer, journalist and human rights advocate Arnold Zable also talked about Boochani’s book, the refugee crisis and the Australian border security policy that has kept hundreds od asylum seekers in the Nauru and Manus Australian detention centres.

Photographer Hoda Afshar spoke about her collaboration with Boochani, her refugee project “Remain” and the documentary she made with Boochani and other asylum seekers. As she said it was a shocking experience to familiarise herself with the horrific living conditions and the problems faced by refugees.




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