The following open letter is addressed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton:
WE, the undersigned, write as journalists, writers, cartoonists and performers to urge you to allow our colleagues Behrouz Boochani, Mehdi Savari, and ‘Eaten Fish’ to be resettled in Australia.
All three men have sought protection as refugees from Iran and are currently detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre in Papua New Guinea which is operated on behalf of the Australian Government. Well into the fourth year of their ordeal on Manus Island, and with delays and uncertainties in relation to any US resettlement deal, the three men remain in limbo. To varying degrees, the years of detention have severely impacted their mental and physical health.
- Behrouz Boochani, 33, is a Kurdish journalist. He has worked as a journalist and editor for several Iranian newspapers. On February 17, 2013, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps ransacked his offices in Ilam and arrested 11 of Boochani's colleagues. Six were imprisoned. He has courageously continued to work as a journalist while in detention, and is a regular contributor to publications in Australia and overseas, often reporting on the situation and conditions on Manus Island. He has been recognised as a refugee and we urge you to allow him to reside in Australia to resume his career as a journalist. Boochani is a Main Case of PEN International, and has been recognised as a detained journalist by Reporters Without Borders. (RSF)
- Mehdi Savari, 31, is an Ahwazi Arab performer. As an actor, he has worked with numerous theatre troupes in many cities and villages in Iran, and performed for audiences in open public places. He was also well-known as the host of a satirical children’s TV show before fleeing Iran. Mehdi is a person of short stature and has met with severe discrimination over his life. His dwarfism has been exacerbated by the conditions and his treatment on Manus Island over the last three years, and he continues to suffer a range of physical ailments and indignities, as well as regular bouts of depression and chronic pain. As he has also been recognised as a refugee, we urge you to facilitate his resettlement in Australia. We also refer you to a resolution passed by the International Federation of Actors congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in September calling for his release from detention.
- Eaten Fish, 24, is a cartoonist and artist who prefers to be known by his nom-de-plume. He has recently received Cartoonists’ Rights Network International’s 2016 award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning. His application for refugee status has not been assessed. Since he was detained at Manus Island, he has been diagnosed with mental illnesses which have been compounded by his incarceration. We urge you to allow him to live in Australia until the final status of his claim can be determined.
As journalists, cartoonists, writers and performers, we are aware that the rights we enjoy are matched by a responsibility to challenge and confront tyranny and wrongdoing, to bear witness and uphold truth, and to reflect our society, even if sometimes unfavourably. We are privileged that in Australia we are able to pursue these ends without fear of persecution or threat to our personal liberty.
We believe that to continue to detain these three individuals without charge or trial undermines freedom of expression and the right to seek asylum. All three have courageously continued to practice their vocations on Manus Island despite their incarceration. We urge you to allow them to be resettled in Australia so that they can live, work and contribute to Australian society.
MEAA is joined in this letter by the the International Federation of Journalists, the International Federation of Actors, the Cartoonists’ Rights Network International, PEN International, and members of the global network of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange.
We urge you to give the cases for resettlement of these three men serious consideration.
This letter has been signed by the following individuals and organisations:
Paul Murphy, CEO, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance | Alan Fletcher, actor | Abbe Holmes, performer | Adele Ferguson, investigative reporter, The Age | Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech | Afghanistan Journalists Center | Alex Miller, writer | Alex Skovron, writer | Alexandra Wake, Journalism Educator, RMIT. | Alexis Wright, writer | Amanda Bishop, actor | Amanda Meade, media correspondent, Guardian Australia | Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain | Andrea Goldsmith, author | Andrew Dyson, cartoonist, The Age | Andrew Weldon, cartoonist | Angela Savage, author | Anita Heiss, author and poet | Anna Funder, writer | Anna Goldsworthy, writer and pianist | Arnold Zable, author | Bali Padda, actor | Ben Schneiders, investigative reporter, The Age | Bill Garner, writer and actor | Bunty Avieson, journalist and author | Cambodian Center for Human Rights | Canadian Journalists for Free Expression | Caroline Graham, writer | Cartoonists Rights Network International | Cathy Peters, radio producer | Cathy Wilcox, cartoonist, Sydney Morning Herald | Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Freedom Forum | Charlotte Wood, writer | Chloe Dallimore, actor/President, MEAA Equity | Chris Graham, publisher and editor, New Matilda | Chris Nash, Professor Journalism, Monash University | Chris Wormersley, author | Chrissie Page, actor | Christine McKenzie, writer | Christopher Downes, cartoonist | Christos Tsiolkas, writer and broadcaster | David Pope, cartoonist | David Squires, cartoonist | Debra Adelaide, writer | Delia Falconer, author | Dennis Atkins, national affairs editor, The Courier Mail | Di Martin, journalist and writer. | Don Bridges, actor | Dr Fiona Martin, On Line media academic, University of Sydney | Dr Olivier Jutel University of the South Pacific | Dragan Zivancevic, writer and director | Drusilla Modjeska, author | Elena Carapetis, actor | Elliot Perlman, author and barrister | Emily Bitto, writer | Erik Jensen, editor, The Saturday Paper | Evelyn Juers, writer | Fiona Katauskas, cartoonist | Fiona Press, actor | Fiona Wright, Author | First Dog On The Moon, cartoonist | Francis Greenslade, actor | Frank Moorhouse, writer | Gabrielle Jackson, opinion editor, Guardian Australia | Gail Jones, author | Geoff Morrell, actor | Geoff Parish, journalist | Geordie Williamson, writer and critic | Gina McColl, investigations deputy editor, The Age | Glen Le Lievre, cartoonist | Glenn Hazeldine, actor | Globe International Center | Greg Baum, associate editor, The Age | Helen Dallimore, actor | Helen Garner, writer | Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda | Independent Journalism Center – Moldova | Index on Censorship | International Federation of Actors | International Federation of Journalists | International Publishers Association Media Foundation for West Africa | Ivor Indyk, publisher | Jackie Mansourian, writer | Janet Galbraith, poet and co-ordinator of Writing Through Fences | Jason Klarwein, actor | Jeff Sparrow, writer and broadcaster | Jewel Topsfield, Indonesia correspondent, Fairfax Media | Johan Lidberg, journalist and academic | John Pilger, journalist | John Shakespeare, cartoonist & illustrator, Sydney Morning Herald | Jon Kudelka, cartoonist | Jonathan Mill, performer | Joshua Robertson, Brisbane correspondent, Guardian Australia | Judith Buckrich, writer | Judith Rodriguez, poet | Judy Horacek, cartoonist | June Factor, writer | Karen Middleton, chief political correspondent, The Saturday Paper | Karen Percy, senior reporter, ABC | Kate McClymont, investigative journalist, Sydney Morning Herald | Kerith Atkinson, actor | Kerry Walker, actor | Kevin Brophy, poet and author | Kim Scott, author | Lachlan Woods, actor | Liam McIlwain, actor | Lindsay Murdoch, South-East Asia correspondent, Fairfax Media | Lorna Lesley, actor | Maher Mughrabi, foreign editor, The Age | Marcus Strom, science editor, Sydney Morning Herald | Margot Knight, actor | Maria Tumarkin, writer | Marieke Hardy, writer and broadcaster | Mark Isaacs, writer | Mary-Anne Toy, features editor, The Age | Matt O'Sullivan, transport editor, Sydney Morning Herald | Media Institute of Southern Africa | Media Watch Norwegian | Melissa Davey, Melbourne bureau chief, Guardian Australia | Melissa Lucashenko, writer | Michael Bachelard, investigations editor, The Age | Michael Heyward, publisher | Michael Janda, business reporter, ABC | Michael Slezak, environment reporter, Guardian Australia | Michala Banas, actor | Michelle de Kretser, author | Michelle Griffin, acting deputy editor, The Age | Mike Seccombe, national correspondent, The Saturday Paper | Mike Ticher, news editor, Guardian Australia | Miki Perkins, social affairs reporter, The Age | Miranda Tapsell, actor | Mireille Juchau, author | Miska Mandic, film-maker | Monica Main, actor | National Union of Somali Journalists | Neil Chenoweth, senior reporter, Australian Financial Review | Nick Feik, editor, The Monthly | Nick Miller, Europe correspondent, Fairfax Media | Nick Moir, photographer, Sydney Morning Herald | Nick O'Malley, senior writer, Sydney Morning Herald | Norwegian PEN | Oslo Davis, cartoonist | Pacific Freedom Forum | Paddy O’Reilly, writer | Patrick Frost, actor | Paul Farrell, reporter, Guardian Australia | Paul Syvret, assistant editor, The Courier Mail | Pearl Tan, actor | PEN American Center | PEN Melbourne | PEN Sydney | Penny Hueston, editor | Peter Greste, journalist | Peter Hannam, environment editor, Sydney Morning Herald | Peter Ryan, senior business correspondent, ABC | Professor David Robie, Pacific Media Centre | Raimond Gaita, writer and philosopher | Randa Abdel-Fattah, writer | Reg Lynch, cartoonist | Robert Hillman, author | Robert Manne, writer and academic | Robyn Arthur, actor | Rod Emmerson, cartoonist | Rod Mullinar, actor | Rod Quantock, writer and comedian | Roger Patching, journalism educator | Rohan Connolly, senior football writer, The Age | Rory Walker, actor | Royce Millar, investigative reporter, The Age | Sam Gaskin, performer | Sam Wallman, cartoonist | Samah Sabawi, Author and playwright. | Sarah Danckert, business reporter, The Age | Sharon Davis, freelance journalist | Simon Johanson, business journalist, The Age | Simon Letch, illustrator, Sydney Morning Herald | Steph Harmon, culture editor, Guardian Australia | Stephanie Convery, deputy culture editor, Guardian Australia | Stephanie Wood, senior writer, Sydney Morning Herald | Stephen Long, investigative reporter, ABC | Stephen Stockwell, Professor, Griffith University | Stuart Halusz, actor | Tessa Lunney, writer | Thomas Keneally, author | Toni Jordan, writer | Tony Birch, author and poet | Tony Kevin, writer and ex-diplomat | Tracey Spicer, writer and broadcaster | Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique | Wendy Bacon, freelance journalist and academic | World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers | Zev Landes, cartoonist
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