Berhouz Boochani’s captivity told in a book

Kurdish-Iranian poet, journalist and documentary maker Behrouz Boochani in No friends but the mountains tells the dramatic experience of the Manus prison in Papua New Guinea

Some books stay inside you. Certain books remain in your mind to remind you among a thousand thoughts that knowing certain horrors and certain brutalities caused by man on man should be eradicated as a rampant evil in society. The prison of hands in Papua New Guinea told by Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish-Iranian poet, journalist and documentary maker, is the terrible tale of a cruel imprisonment that damages the basic rights of every man.

As written in the preface to the Australian edition, “No friends but the mountains (Add Publisher, 2019) is a book that, with good reason, can occupy a place on the shelf of world prison literature alongside works as diverse as the De profundis of Oscar Wilde, The prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, Into the Smother of Ray Parkin, The man is dead of Wole Soyinka e Letter from Birmingham prison of Martin Luther King”.

In a note that precedes the text it is specified that in 2013 in the Australian territory the agreement between Australia and Papua New Guinea known as Regional Resettlement Agreement. Under this agreement asylum seekers are blocked indefinitely in the Manus detention center (or other centers such as the Christmas island e Nauru).

According to “Pacific Solution”In force in Australia, asylum seekers of any age who attempt to enter the country illegally come rejected The deported until they are granted the status of political refugee. The prison Manus Island Regional Processing Centre it was declared illegal by Papua New Guinea in 2016 and closed in October 2017. Asylum seekers illegally detained in Manus have been transferred to other reception facilities.

I am like a soldier faced with the dilemma of whether to cross a minefield or fall a prisoner of war. I had to choose. This is the point of no return. I can’t look back.

No friends but the mountains it is a book that contains the wrinkles of the anguish of overcrowded boats, of the search for a place to stay, of contact with a new land. Situations on the verge of survival that push face to face with oneself, situations in which a free world was expected and instead we find ourselves coming to terms with exile, imprisonment, being alone among the other prisoners. The face of that exile, the face of that imprisonment in which you try in every way to escape from the thought of death and in which you try in every way to cling to the hope of life.

The time denied to freedom and the guilt of leaving to find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. You will hardly be able to hold back your tears as you read everything that is told: leaving your home, leaving the country you were born in, finding yourself locked in cages, violence and many families who have to continually make come to terms with hunger and deprivation of fundamental human rights.

I think all books, or most of them, have their own sacredness, but some of them reach the reader better by managing to undermine the principles to which he was linked and changing his way of seeing things: No friends but the mountains is one of them.

Maria Laura Canori

Cover image via

No friends but the mountains
Behrouz Boochani
Translation by Alessandra Maestrini

Add Editore, 2019
pp. 432, € 18.00, e-book € 9.99

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