Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani was imprisoned on Manus Island for over six years, and during that time he became acutely aware that oppression takes root when people look away. He was determined to use his sharpest weapon – his words – to survive, and to expose Australia’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.
Now, in 2023, not only is Boochani free, he’s also a multi-award-winning author, documentary maker, humanitarian and scholar. His words, and those of other writers and activists, have changed lives, his own included. And they’ve helped keep us accountable.
A scholar of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, Kylie Moore-Gilbert also spent years unjustly imprisoned in unimaginable conditions. Invited on a study tour of Iran in 2018, Moore-Gilbert was falsely accused of espionage and imprisoned for more than 800 days, including seven months in solitary confinement – before her ultimate release through an Australian-brokered prisoner exchange.
Boochani and Moore-Gilbert come together for this special event, presented by PEN Melbourne and the Wheeler Centre to mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. With host Karen Percy, these remarkable survivors share their powerful stories, and reflect on the role of writing to shine a light in the darkest places.
This event was presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.
It was recorded on Tuesday 14 November 2023 at The Wheeler Centre.
The official bookseller was the Sun Bookshop.
Featured music is ‘Living in a Fantasy’ by Pulsed.