Behrouz Boochani, who wrote his novel on his mobile phone, has been awarded the prestigious Victoria Prize for Literature in Australia. Unfortunately, Boochani could not attend the award ceremony, as he is still being held in prison on Manus Island.
Boochani had set out on a perilous journey crossing the ocean to set foot on Australia. However, before he could land, he was sent to Manus Island by the Australian government for trying to enter the country illegally.
‘6 years ago, when I came to Christmas Island, an immigration officer called me to his office and told me that I would be exiled to Manus Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. When I told him I was a writer he laughed at me,’ Boochani said. “I have remembered that face over the years, even as I was writing my book, and even at the moment preparing this prize speech. It was humiliation.”
Boochani also drew attention to the plight of refugees and the poor conditions in the refugee camps in Australia.
“I would like to conclude that this award is a victory, not just for me, for literature, for art, and above all for humanity. A victory for humankind, a victory for the human dignity,” Boochani added. ‘A victory against the system. A victory against the system that reduces us to numbers.’
Boochani has been awarded 100 thousand Australian dollars ($ 72 thousand). He had also managed to create a documentary by secretly filming the conditions at Manus Prison.