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No Friend but the Mountains: The True Story of an Illegally Imprisoned Refugee

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On 2 May 2019, it was announced that the work had won the Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) for General non-fiction book of the year. [18] On 12 August 2019, the book won the Australian National Biography Award. [19] In May 2020 it won ABIA Audiobook of the year. [20] Publication in Iran [ edit ] Last November he was granted a one-month visa to go to New Zealand to speak at a special event organised by WORD Christchurch. He remains in New Zealand. A regular correspondent for Guardian Australia, Boochani wrote about seeing his friends shot and murdered by guards, his time in solitary confinement after reporting on a hunger strike, and the mental harm inflicted on fellow asylum seekers inside the Manus Island detention centre. ABC TV BROADCAST: No Friend But the Mountains - A Voyage Through Song". Wise Music Classical. 26 April 2022 . Retrieved 10 July 2022.

This is why we continue to speak. Because attempts at ethnically cleansing Kurds still persist today. Boochani, giving an acceptance speech for the award via video, said that this award "is a victory. It is a victory not only for us but for literature and art and above all it is victory for humanity. It is a victory against the system that has reduced us to numbers". [14] In an interview with the writer Arnold Zable following the award, Boochani said that he has many conflicting thoughts on it, but he sees it as a "political statement from the literary and creative arts community in Australia, and all those who do not agree with the government's thinking". [15] No Friend But The Mountains was written while in detention and translated in collaboration with interpreter Moones Mansoubi and academic Omid Tofighian. The journalist also filmed the documentary Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time about life on Manus using a smartphone hidden from guards. Clearly, they are taking us hostage. We are hostages – we are being made examples to strike fear into others, to scare people so they won’t come to Australia. Mountainous regions are home to only ten percent of the world's population yet host a strikingly disproportionate share of the world's conflicts. Mountains provide a natural refuge for those who want to elude authority, and their remoteness has allowed archaic practices to persist well into our globalized era.Written in prose and poetry, it chronicles Boochani's boat journey from Indonesia to Christmas Island in 2013 and his subsequent detainment on Manus Island, describing the lives (and deaths) of other detainees, the daily routines and various incidents, and reflecting on the system in which they are trapped, up to the point of the prison riots in early 2014. He also makes observations on the Australian guards and the local Papuan people. He characterises individuals about whom he writes using epithets rather than using their real names, with a few important exceptions such as his friend Reza Barati, also known as The Gentle Giant. Prison literature generally doesn’t dwell on the conventional judicial assessments. Instead of assessing the guilt or innocence of people behind bars, the genre focuses on the opposition between those imprisoned (whatever their crime) and those guarding them. In No Friend but the Mountains Boochani does not ask why inmates ended up on Manus: rather, he takes for granted their shared interest in freedom. Winner of The Victorian Prize for Literature, and the Prize for Non-Fiction, Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2019

A chant, a cry from the heart, a lament, fuelled by a fierce urgency, written with the lyricism of a poet, the literary skills of a novelist, and the profound insights of an astute observer of human behaviour and the ruthless politics of a cruel and unjust imprisonment.' ARNOLD ZABLEKyriarchy is a set of connecting social systems built around domination, oppression, and submission. The term derives from Feminist theologian Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. It is a version of intersectional theory that looks at (in her words) ‘stratifications of gender, race, class, religion, heterosexualism, and age’. The Kyriarchal System plays out in Manus prison through the hierarchies and divisions that the authorities create between, for example, the Papuans (called ‘Papus’) and the prisoners. Before they are sent to Manus, the asylum seekers are told that the local Manusians are dangerous, ‘cannibals’ even. Later we find that the Manusians have been warned about that the prisoners are similarly dangerous. No Friend But The Mountains is a masterpiece of prisoner literature, up there with Solzhenitsyn and Levi (and no, I'm not going the Godwin's Law route, but I had visceral shivers reading some of the familiar conditions in that hellhole). Moreover, it is an instant Australian classic. Probably the most important book published here this century. The prose is stunning, the poetry sublime. It is dignified and courageous, honest and excoriating. And yes, it is heartbreaking.

Zhou, Naaman (24 February 2020). "Behrouz Boochani's book, No Friend But The Mountains, to be made into a film". The Guardian . Retrieved 1 March 2020. In July 2013, just four days before Boochani’s arrival, the Australian Parliament had accepted a new legislation on the “Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers.” This legislation included a Regional Resettlement Arrangement with PNG, under which all asylum seekers who arrived by boat would be transferred to PNG for processing and settlement, preventing them from ever receiving asylum in Australia. The only option to leave the island was to return to their country of origin by risking their lives and enduring further suffering. Despite the torture and humiliation in the detention and asylum system, very few refugees saw the possibility of giving up and returning to their countries of origin. Australia’s offshore detention camps were declared illegal by the PNG in 2016 and closed in 2017, while the detainees were resettled on the island. Boochani was trapped on Manus for six years and was granted a refugee status in New Zealand only in 2020. Behrouz Boochani’s work, ‘No Friend But the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison’ is very explicit in naming his experience as that of being a prisoner. The euphemisms of Australian policy — ‘regional processing’, ‘detention centres’, ‘detainees’ — are rejected. Boochani’s experience of Manus is prisoner like because it is, in fact, a prison. In the book’s afterward he states that ‘I avoid using [the Australian government’s] language as much as I can … I create my own discourse and do not succumb to the language of oppressive power’. He immerses the reader in Manus' everyday horrors: the boredom, frustration, violence, obsession and hunger; the petty bureaucratic bullying and the wholesale nastiness; the tragedies and the soul-destroying hopelessness. Its creation was an almost unimaginable task... will lodge deep in the brain of anyone who reads it.' Herald Sun

Behrouz Boochani on Manus Island : Contesting Refugee Experience in the Global South Nicholas Birns, Flanagan, Richard (October 2018). Foreword. No friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. By Boochani, Behrouz. Translated by Tofighian, Omid. Picador Australia. ISBN 9781760555382. Boochani’s strategy for survival is different. It rests precisely on the high literary culture that Améry declares ineffective in Auschwitz. As translator Omid Tofighian explains, the manuscript of No Friend but the Mountains emerged from the surreptitious transmission of short passages in Farsi, sent from the camp via WhatsApp and similar platforms. Translated and compiled by Tofighian, the messages make a text that is deliberately and defiantly literary – ‘rich with cultural, historical and political frames of reference and allusion’. Boochani said writing had helped him survive, observing: “I could keep my identity and keep my humanity. This system is designed to take our identity, designed to reduce us to numbers.”

Maysam the Whore] employs a beautiful form of rebellion that has enormous appeal for the prisoners. … He stands in direct opposition to a system that wants to fatten up lambs for slaughter. With just one word spoken by him, we experience the essence of life.The narrative begins with Boochani leaving Indonesia on a decrepit boat, a voyage that culminates in his arrival on Australian territory (specifically, Christmas Island). There, as the asylum seekers learn of their imminent transfer to Manus Island, they’re told to change into new clothing provided by the guards. a b c Ponniah, Kevin (31 January 2019). "Behrouz Boochani: Refugee who wrote book using WhatsApp wins top prize". BBC News. Archived from the original on 1 February 2019 . Retrieved 1 February 2019. In Manus, Boochani describes a man he calls ‘Maysam the Whore’ who mounts a cultural rebellion that would have been impossible in a Nazi camp. Maysam performs a kind of satirical cabaret, both to annoy the Australian guards (no noun in the book conveys as much contempt as the ‘Australian’) and to entertain the inmates. His act, Boochani writes, is a form of resistance, intended to ‘spite those people who exiled them to the prison.’ With the guards posting notices declaring ‘games prohibited’, the pretence of happiness allows refugees to preserve their humanity. Imagine a community of four hundred people, neglected in a boiling hot filthy cage, still traumatised by the terrifying sound of waves ringing in their ears and the rotting boat fixed before their eyes. ––– Behrouz Boochani, (126) At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations by a survivor on Auschwitz and its realities, Jean Améry, Indiana Unversity Press, Indianapolis, 1980

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