Australian union issues complaint over detention of Iranian-Kurdish journalist

Credit: MEAA

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) in its complaint lodge to the Australian and Papua New Guinean Governments over the arrest of Iranian-Kurdish refugee journalist, Behrouz Boochani, on Manus Island on November 23.

Yesterday, Papua New Guinea (PNG) police launched an operation at the Australian detention centre on Manus Island, PNG, in an attempt to remove the remaining refugees. During the operation, the police officers reportedly asked ‘where’s the journalist’. When they found Boochani, he was handcuffed and led out of the centre by two officers. A few hours later, Behrouz was released, with PNG police claiming he was never arrested, but escorted out.

Following his release, Boochani said that he was detained for two hours behind the centre. He was handcuffed the entire time, and not allowed to use his phone. He said during the detention the officers yelled at him “You are reporting against us”. Boochani said he was pushed several times and his belongings were damaged.

Today, MEAA wrote to Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill regarding the arrest of Boochani. In the letter MEAA questioned the targeted detention of Boochani as an outrageous attack on press freedom.

MEAA CEO Paul Murphy said: “For years now, a veil of secrecy has cloaked every aspect of the government’s asylum seeker policy. The role of the media is to hold the powerful to account and to scrutinise what they do… The actions and statements of PNG police confirm that Boochani was targeted during the police operation on Manus. That is a clear assault on press freedom.”

The IFJ said: “The targeted detention of Behrouz Boochani is a perfect example of a government’s attempts to silence a critical voice, and control the flow of information. Journalists play a vital role in holding the powerful to account without fear of punishment. We echo MEAA’s calls on the Australian and PNG governments to clarify the detention of Behrouz and ensure his right to report.” 

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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