Behrouz Boochani given refugee status in New Zealand

Behrouz Boochani, the Kurdish-Iranian refugee who came to fame after he wrote an account about life on Manus Island on his phone, has been given refugee status in New Zealand.

Boochani arrived in Christchurch in November last year after being granted a visitor visa to attend a literary festival. He remained in New Zealand after his visa ran out.

He had spent more than six years in an Australian detention centre on Manus Island. There he wrote his book No Friend But the Mountains on his phone, which won two major literary prizes in Australia.

Boochani said at the time he would consider seeking asylum here.

The Guardian reports Boochani was notified by the Government his claim for asylum had been granted on July 23.

“I am very happy some certainty about my future, I feel relieved and secure finally,” he told the outlet.

It is believed he has been living in Christchurch.

The 37-year-old fled Iran in 2013 for the safety of Australian shores. Instead, without a trial or any criminal convictions, he was forcibly held by the Australian government in Papua New Guinea.

“I left Iran because I didn’t want to live in prison, but Australia jailed me,” Boochani told Newshub earlier this year.

Boochani’s decision to remain in New Zealand caused people to question his motives and his political connections.

National MP Stuart Smith in May questioned “whether his political connections enabled him to enter the country”, suggesting Boochani’s ties to the Green Party won him favour.

The lead to Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman to reject the notion, telling Newshub: “The assertions made by Mr Smith are baseless. The decision-making process by Immigration NZ is rightfully independent.”

Ghahraman, a former human rights lawyer, greeted Boochani when he arrived in New Zealand in November, tweeting a picture with him captioned: “Thrilled and exhausted and free.”

In a statement on Friday Ghahraman welcomed the news.

“Today we celebrate New Zealand as a place where fairness and compassion prevails”, Green Party Human Rights and Immigration spokesperson Ghahraman said.

“I would like to thank our refugee authorities for their work with Behrouz, today they demonstrated the strength of our country, and how we put compassion and kindness first.

“People escaping torture and persecution based on their religion, race, and political activism deserve a place to call home, they deserve protection.

“We welcome Behrouz wholeheartedly. He has faced persecution and torture at the hands of Iran’s Islamic regime and whilst imprisoned on Manus Island, it is well overdue that he had a place where he is safe to put down roots”.

Behrouz Boochani given refugee status in New Zealand