Australian union demands resettlement of detained colleagues

(L-R) Behroux Boochani, Eaten Fish & Medhi Savari. Credit: MEAA

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) is demanding the immediate resettlement of journalist Behrouz Boochani, actor and Mehdi Savari, and cartoonist ‘Eaten Fish’ in Australia. The IFJ and MEAA call on the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to bring them to Australia.

The three Iranian asylum seekers have been detained at the Manus Island Processing Centre, on behalf of the Australian Government for several years. They each sought refuge from Iran so that they could freely express themselves without fear of persecution or harm, but instead their freedom has been further suppressed in detention.

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.

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.

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.

MEAA has joined with IFEX to launch an international petition demanding the three asylum seekers be resettled in Australia. The letter was signed by a number of international organisations and more than 100 journalists, actors, writers and cartoonists.

MEAA CEO Paul Murphy said: “We regard these three men, who each fled Iran separately and have sought asylum in Australia, as professional colleagues who can make a meaningful contribution if resettled in Australia. They each sought refuge from Iran so they could freely express themselves without fear of persecution or harm, but instead their freedom has been further suppressed in detention. All three have courageously continued to practice their vocations on Manus Island despite their incarceration.”

“But as journalists, writers, performers and artists, we cannot stand by and allow our fellow professionals to be treated in this way,” said MEAA.

The IFJ said: “We stand with our colleagues and call for the resettlement of Behrouz, Mehdi and Eaten Fish. No one should be intimidate, detained or persecuted for expressing themselves. Freedom of expression should be a human right for all.”

You can add your name to the letter here.  

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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