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Refugee Writes Book Using Whatsapp, Wins Top Prize

An asylum seeker who wrote a book using WhatsApp while in an Australian detention centre on an island in the Pacific has won one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian held in an Australian-run camp on a Papua New Guinea island, won the A$100,000 ($72,390) Victorian Prize for literature on Thursday with his book “No Friends but the Mountains”. He wrote on his mobile phone and delivered one chapter at a time via WhatsApp.

The Kurdish Iranian writer is an asylum seeker who has been kept in purgatory on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for almost six years, first behind the wire of the Australian offshore detention centre, and then in alternative accommodation on the island.

“My main aim has always been for the people in Australia and around the world to understand deeply how this system has tortured innocent people on Manus and Nauru in a systematic way for almost six years,” he told Guardian Australia.

“I hope this award will bring more attention to our situation, and create change, and end this barbaric policy.”


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