24 Jul 2020

National Party 'hate speech' a problem - Behrouz Boochani

From Checkpoint, 5:28 pm on 24 July 2020

Kurdish-Iranian writer Behrouz Boochani says he is relieved he has been granted refugee status in New Zealand.

This photo taken on November 22, 2019 shows Kurdish-Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani posing for a photo in Christchurch.

Behrouz Boochani visiting the New Brighton Pier in Christchurch last November. Photo: AFP

He spent six years in detention in Papua New Guinea after unsuccessfully seeking asylum in Australia.

Boochani said it has been a long journey to get to this point and a struggle dealing with systems which deprived him of basic human rights.

He said the National Party falsely accused him through the media.

"It is a problem when they say that he's here illegally, he came here illegally, he got special treatment, they tried to dehumanise me."

He said he did not get special treatment and the process was legal.

"New Zealand was the first safe country and I had this right according to the New Zealand law, according to the international law, to the international convention to seek asylum in this country and according to the law they had to process my case.

"And so they processed that and now I am recognised as a refugee and so I am eligible to stay here."

Boochani came to New Zealand for a writers festival.

He refused to say whether or not he came to New Zealand with the intention of applying for asylum and did not remember that exact date that he sought asylum in this country.

"I strongly reject this kind of comment because anything with me is a legal ... and now I am part of Canterbury University and Ngāi Tahu research centre and I have created friendships and networks here and I am working on academic projects so that is my job now, that is my work and that is my future."

He said it seemed that National was looking towards the Australian government, but humanitarian issues are important and his story should be separated from politics.

"I'm not talking only about myself, I'm talking generally about humanitarian issues that unfortunately in a country like Australia and many countries around the world, there are politicians who politicise these humanitarian matters."