Behrouz Boochani

Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish writer and journalist incarcerated in our black site on Manus Island.

Opinion Piece by Behrouz Boochani published in The Age 05/02/2016


Love song of a caged bird

(From Green Hell on Manus)

Forgive me my bird

as I am not able to embrace you.

But here, in this corner,

I know some migrating birds

who I smile to at the crack of dawn
and embrace with open arms,
as open as the immensity of the sky.

Forgive me my beautiful love

as I am not able to partake of the aromatic scent of your breath.

But here, in this ruin,

I know some wild flowers

that grow every morning in my heart

and in the dead of the night

drift into sleep with me, in my place.

Forgive me my angel

as I am not able to caress your gentle skin with my fingertips.

But I have a lifelong friendship

with the breath of the sea

and those breezes strum my nude skin

here, in this green hell!

Forgive me

as I am not able to climb the green mountains of your body,

but here, in the depths of darkness, in the middle of every night,

I enjoy deep and utter seclusion

with the tall, veiny coconut trees.

My beautiful!

I sing you in the profundities of the oldest and the oddest songs,

further away from the world of a man who loves you

amongst the deepest oceans

and the darkest forests.

Inside a cage,

the man loves you,

inside a cage located between the vastest ocean and the greenest forests.

Forgive me my love

Forgive me my love as I am solely able to love you from a remote island,

inside a cage,

from the corner of this small room.

Forgive me please

as the only portion of the world that belongs to me

is this.

-Behrouz Boochani, Manus Island 2015


The Presence of Animals

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Here, in the neighbourhood of the people who stare for twenty-four hours solely at walls and metal, the presence of animals is a virtue; That flock of birds gliding at night under the dramatic moon creates a magical and striking scene in our minds; so to the orchestra of frogs that have no home except a lagoon that clings to the ocean; shunning the ocean as they grow old, the eldest crabs sink into the damp mud under the fences and after a while drift into a deep sleep; slithering under the fences curious snakes sometimes enter the prison like strangers and usually lose their lives for their innocent trespass; when the unique fish-eating eagle with a white neck dives into the ocean bed it catches a big fish; colourful parrots love to hold their family, gathering on the tallest coconut trees. Here animals are the finest elements in the mind of a lonely prisoner who has no interests but the sky, the ocean and the jungle, all beyond the fences.

– Behrouz Boochani 2016


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The women of Kurdistan.

I will talk to you of Kurdistan and mountains, of beautiful trees and rare flowers.  I will talk of wild rivers, tall waterfalls and amazing music.  I will talk of my father, the shepherd, who was inseparable from nature.  I will talk of my mother who worked too hard to find something for us to eat and, when there was none, lay our heads on her lap and sung us beautiful stories to make us sleep. I will talk to you of Kurdistan made a battle-field, of a childhood filled with war,  of 50,000 Kurds killed on one day by chemical weapons, of our soil soaked in blood.  I will talk to you of Kurdistan and the women I admire.  The women of Kurdistan who fight, sing and dance.  The women who fight, sing and dance.

  • written by Behrouz Boochani 2014 with translation by Ali Parsaei and Janet Galbraith


The Black Kite

Over Manus Island,

a black kite flies.

The hands of youths –

still with energy

to bear the difficulties

of this prison camp  –

made it.

The black kite,

a messenger of freedom,

flies for us,

the forgotten prisoners.

See it circle

higher and higher

above the camp,

above the beautiful coconuts.

See our eyes follow its flight.

It wants to tear its rope

and break free.

It does.

Dancing towards the ocean,

it flies far and again further

until no one can see it.

The youths stare into the empty sky

after their impossible dream.

– Behrouz Boochani (2014)

Translation by Ali Parsaei and Janet Galbraith