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LIVESTREAM Creative resistance: Behrouz Boochani and friends on fighting a dehumanising system

9 February 2023
5.45pm – 7.00pm AEDT
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Intellectual conversation helped me to survive… Living in a system designed to dehumanise you, when you have such a conversation, you feel that you bring your dignity back.’ 

Behrouz Boochani


UNSW’s Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law and Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) invite you to join us for a special livestream discussion with Behrouz Boochani, as he concludes his first visit to Australia.

We will explore Behrouz’s complicated path to freedom, and the role of courage, collaboration and creativity in challenging a dehumanising asylum system.

How did the relationship between Behrouz and his collaborators generate new ideas and knowledge about offshore processing? What role did writing and journalism play in building resilience and resistance on Manus Island and beyond?

Join us for an intimate conversation about collaborating against the odds, with all its practical, deeply personal, and political challenges. Behrouz will be joined by his translator and longtime collaborator Omid Tofighian, and Guardian Australia journalist Ben Doherty, for a discussion about the new book, Freedom, Only Freedom (Bloomsbury 2022), and the liberating power of writing, creative relationships and resistance, in a discussion hosted by RACS Director Sarah Dale and Kaldor Centre Director Jane McAdam AO. 

About the speakers

Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate and filmmaker. Boochani was a writer and editor for the Kurdish language magazine Werya in Iran. He is a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck Law School; Associate Professor in Social Sciences at UNSW Sydney; Honorary Member of PEN International; and winner of an Amnesty International Australia 2017 Media Award, the Diaspora Symposium Social Justice Award, the Liberty Victoria 2018 Empty Chair Award, and the Anna Politkovskaya award for journalism. He publishes regularly with The Guardian, and his writing also features in The Saturday Paper, Huffington Post, New Matilda, The Financial Times and The Sydney Morning Herald. Boochani is also co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the 2017 feature-length film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time; and collaborator on Nazanin Sahamizadeh’s play Manus. His book, No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison won the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature in addition to the Nonfiction category. He has also won the Special Award at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, the Australian Book Industry Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, and the National Biography Prize.

Omid Tofighian is Adjunct Lecturer in the School of the Arts and Media, UNSW Sydney and Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck Law, University of London. He is an award-winning lecturer, researcher and community advocate, combining philosophy with interests in citizen media, popular culture, displacement and discrimination. His publications include Myth and Philosophy in Platonic Dialogues; translation of Behrouz Boochani's multi-award-winning book No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison, co-editor of special issues for journals Literature and Aesthetics, Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media and Southerly; and co-translator/co-editor of Freedom, Only Freedom: The Prison Writings of Behrouz Boochani.

Ben Doherty is immigration correspondent for Guardian Australia, based in the Sydney newsroom. He was formerly the Bangkok-based Southeast Asia Correspondent for The Guardian, and South Asia Correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in New Delhi. He has reported from more than 20 countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, and throughout the Asia-Pacific. Ben has twice been awarded a Walkley Award, Australia's highest journalism honour, most recently in 2013 for a six-month investigation into sweatshop labour conditions and worker deaths in the Bangladeshi garment industry. He has written extensively on, and has a particular interest in, the issues of child and forced labour in developing economies, and the movement of refugees and forced migrants. Ben was the Walkley Young Australian Print Journalist of the Year in 2008 and has been a finalist in the United Nations Media Peace awards, and Amnesty International Media Awards. 

Co-host: Sarah Dale is the Director and Principal Solicitor at RACS. She joined RACS in 2013 after spending a number of years working with people seeking asylum and refugees in visa cancellation and civil law issues. At RACS, Sarah was their first Child Specialist Solicitor, developing an outreach legal service to assist unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Australia, and worked tirelessly with children who were detained on Christmas Island and faced transfer to Nauru. She continued this outreach to young people who were transferred to Nauru as unaccompanied children. Sarah became Principal Solicitor in 2016 and has led RACS in responding to a shifting policy environment. In 2017, Sarah participated in the UNHCR Expert Roundtable in Brussels on family reunification, and in consultation with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders at York University. 

Co-host: Jane McAdam AO is Scientia Professor of Law and Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW Sydney. She is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. She publishes widely in international refugee law and forced migration, with a particular focus on climate change, disasters and displacement. In 2022, she led the drafting of the Pacific Regional Framework on Disaster Mobility, a world-first instrument that is being deliberated by Pacific governments. She is joint Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law, the leading journal in the field. She serves on a number of international committees, including the International Law Association’s Committee on International Law and Sea-Level Rise (as Co-Rapporteur until 2018); the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement; the Technical Advisory Group for the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security Programme; and the Advisory Council of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion. In 2017, she received the Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for Human Rights for her work on refugees and forced migration. In 2021, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 'for distinguished service to international refugee law, particularly to climate change and the displacement of people'.