A Ballarat audience applauded yesterday as the prize-winning author Behrouz Boochani urged voters not to support the government's "barbaric policy" on Manus and Nauru islands.
The 35-year-old, who has been confined to Manus Island for the past six years, appeared via Skype video link at the Eureka Centre theatre.
Christina knew she had cancer. Before she died, she voted for a politician that is supporting the refugeesBehrouz Boochani, journalist and author
"These days are election time so I would like to talk more about politics," he told the audience at the event, which was organised by the Rural Australians for Refugees.
Even the guards - they are victims in some ways. They actually take this violence in Manus to Australian society
In a live interview with The Courier's editor Eugene Duffy, he said: "Don't vote for politicians who are supporting this barbaric policy."
To warm applause, he told the story of his friend Christina Coome, who he said had been fighting on behalf of refugees for " many years".
"She had cancer but unfortunately she died a few days ago".
"Her story has meaning. She knew she had cancer. Before she died, she voted for a politician that is supporting the refugees. She voted for Julian Burnside [the Greens candidate for Kooyong] just last week."
He also said the government policy, had repercussions beyond the impact on the refugees who are unable to leave the island.
"Even the guards - they are victims in some ways. They actually take this violence in Manus to Australian society."
"Manus and Nauru belong to Australia."
Mr Boochani, an Iranian-Kurdish journalist, was imprisoned in Manus Island six years ago after attempting to come to Australia by boat from Indonesia.
He had fled Iran after the offices of the Kurdish magazine he co-founded were raided by the The Islamic Revolutionary Guard and he was threatened with imprisonment.
Last night he said he hoped to come to Australia's liberal democracy where he wanted to have the freedom to write.
It is still unbelievable that a liberal democracy like Australia has done this to innocent people
Instead, he ended up on Manus Island where he was held in a detention centre until October 2017.
He wrote No Friend But The Mountains by sending WhatsApp messages on a clandestine mobile phone.
In January, the book won Australia's richest literary prize, the Victorian premier's literary awards, taking both the $25,000 non-fiction prize and the $100,000 Victorian prize for literature.
Mr Boochani said last night that his writing and work were "an act of resistance".
He also accused the prime minister Scott Morrison of creating an atmosphere of "violence and hatred for years and years".
"It is still unbelievable that a liberal democracy like Australia has done this to innocent people in Manus Island and Nauru, shipped them to remote remote islands for six years," he said.
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