One of the meaningful ways you can work towards the release of imprisoned writers is through writing letters to those in government. Below we feature imprisoned writers from the Asia-Pacific region and include downloadable template letters that you can sign and send to the Prime Minister of Australia.
The Imprisoned Writer
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish Iranian journalist who fled his home country in 2013 after eleven of his colleagues who worked for Werya, a Kurdish newspaper that Boochani co-founded and produced, were arrested. He boarded a boat in Indonesia to seek asylum in Australia. The boat was intercepted and he was taken to Christmas Island and later deported to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, where he has been imprisoned indefinitely without charge for over six years.
During this time he has written articles for international newspapers, reporting on the despair, the violence and injustices experienced by those in detention. He directed and filmed a documentary using his phone called Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time. He also wrote No Friend But the Mountains, a book he 'penned' by sending one text at a time to his translator based in Australia. In February 2019, this book was awarded two Victorian Premier's Literary Awards worth $125,000 in prize money, recognising the immense power of his writing. In his own words:
"This proves that words still have the power to challenge inhumane systems and structures. I have always said that I believe in words and literature. I believe that literature has the potential to make change and challenge structures of power. Literature has the power to give us freedom. Yes, it is true.
"I have been in a cage for years but throughout this time my mind has always been producing words, and these words have taken me across borders, taken me overseas and to unknown places. I truly believe words are more powerful than the fences of this place, this prison."
Behrouz has continued to document daily life as an imprisoned asylum seeker via twitter – you can follow his updates here.
Step 1: Download the template letter.
Step 2: Add the date and your name and signature.
Step 3: Visit the Prime Minister's website, enter your details and attach the signed letter.
Step 4: After submitting, get onto Facebook and Twitter and encourage your friends to do the same!