Behrouz Boochani Receives Sir Ronald Wilson Human Rights Award

29 Oct, 2018

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has awarded the Sir Ronald Wilson Human Rights Award to journalist and Iranian refugee, Behrouz Boochani, who is detained on Manus Island.

The award is presented to an individual or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights. 

This year’s award recognises Boochani’s work to advocate on behalf of his colleagues, arbitrarily detailed in Manus Island, PNG and Nauru. It honours his powerful writing in which he has raised public awareness about the systemic violence against asylum seekers and refugees inherent in the Australian Government’s offshore detention regime.  

ACFID made the award at its annual conference – titled Human Rights in the 21st Century – on Tuesday evening, in Sydney.  

On receiving the award, Boochani addressed delegates at the conference via video from Manus:

“I remember when I started nobody outside knew about what was happening on Manus. I promised myself that even if only one person reads my work, I will write for that individual person.

“Now, I am happy that after all these years many people are aware of the situation here and we were able to record the history of this prison and expose how this inhumane system is working.

“Honestly, I am so tired, but I believe that we have no choice but to keep struggling and keep writing. That’s what Sir Ron Wilson did, and that’s what many other people in Australia are doing to work for justice.

“Receiving this award gives me even more energy to continue.”

ACFID CEO, Marc Purcell, said:

“I met Behrouz at the end of a three-week peaceful protest by detainees at Australia’s Manus Island detention centre. Behrouz stood out as as a leader and a spokesperson for his fellow detainees in the face of oppression.

“Having been deprived of liberty for almost 5 years, he retains extraordinary qualities of courage, fortitude and clarity of thought. He remains undeterred as an advocate, despite the troubles he has faced.  

“Behrouz has shone a light in Australia’s dark corners. Through his writing, he has been a resolute advocate for human rights and a powerful voice for the people who have died and suffered alongside him on Manus.

“This award represents the strength and struggle of all people imprisoned by the Australian Government in PNG and Nauru.”

Following Sir Ronald Wilson’s death in 2002, the ACFID award was created in his honour.

Sir Ronald was a passionate campaigner for human rights, conducting the landmark Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, which resulted in the 1997 ‘Bringing them Home’ report.

Sir Ron Wilson AC KBE CMG QC served as: a judge on the High Court of Australia; President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission until 1997 and was President of ACFID between 1998 and 2001.

Past recipients include, The Referendum Council (2017) and former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs (2016).

ENDS

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