A Kurdish "boat person"
The NYT has a long and meandering story designed to evoke the life of a Kurdish "refugee" named Behrouz Boochani.
"Boat people" are alleged refugees who tried to crash their way into Australia aboard small, rickety, wooden fishing bosts from Indonesia. They mostly came from the Middle East after taking an airline flight from Pakistan to Indonesia. As a Muslim country, Indonesia had a duty of hospitality towards them but they wanted to come to much more affluent Australia. They were almost all Muslims but passionately wanted to live in a non-Muslim country.
Since they had been in two countries where they could claim asylum, their claim to be asylum seekers was invalid. They already had asylum in Pakistan or Indonesia. Nobody was shooting at them or likely to do so there.
In the '70s, Vietnamese boat people sailing directly from South Vietnam to escape the aftermath of the Vietnam war were welcomed into Australia and integrated well. Muslims not so much.
"In 2013, Australia sent hundreds of would-be asylum seekers to a secretive offshore detention center. Then one of the detainees, a journalist named Behrouz Boochani, told the world all about it."
It is a sob story. Let me briefly retell the story without the sobs:
Boochani was one of a group of "boat people" who tried to impose their presence on Australia. They thought they could bypass the means Australia uses for selecting immigrants. They thought that compassion alone would grant them entry.
It once did, but Australia eventually suffered compassion fatigue. Most such arrivals remained welfare dependent on the Australian taxpayer, a most exploited individual who would have preferred to keep his hard-earned dollars in his pocket.
Would you like a stranger to move into your house and expect you to feed him? That is very much what the boat people were doing. So in the end both major Australian political parties agreed that no more such people would be accepted into Australia. They would instead be held in what were effectively jails outside Australia and offered a free flight to anywhere else in the world.
Boochani is a Kurd so he could have opted to go to the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq. But Kurdistan generally is poor. So that was no good to him. He sought life in a rich and peaceful Western country. And Australia was near but so far. He was offered residence in the USA but rejected that. He had heard that America was too violent. It was Australia and New Zealand he was focused on.
He was eventually released from detention and given residence in New Guinea. But New Guinea is poor and violent, just like Iran, where he came from. So that was no good to him. He was a journalist and a talented writer so he wrote accounts of his life as a boat person until he was accepted into New Zealand, where he has an academic job.
It took him many years of his life in squalid refugee camps to reach his goal but reach it he did. He is certainly persistent.
But the NYT article is a tale of suffering. It even adopts Boochani's claim that the Australians tortured him. The torture was however the torture of being held in a jail instead of sailing off blissfully to Australia.
There is however no doubt that detention was unpleasant and frustrating but it was his choice to become an unwelcome guest in someone else's country that brought that down on his head. Had I been an Iranian and a critic of the regime, I would simply have shut up. It would have given me a much less troubled life -- JR