Manus Island refugee pleads for UK visa to see screening of his film


An Iranian-Kurdish refugee at the Manus Island detention centre, who pleaded for permission to attend the screening of his film at the London Film Festival, has been told to apply to the Home Office for a visa.

The refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani posted a letter dated last weekend on Twitter addressed to the British High Commissioner of Australia, Menna Rawlings.

In it, Mr Boochani pleads that he would like to go to the screening of his film on October 8th and 9th at the BFI London Film Festival.

He made the documentary ‘Chauka Please Tell Us The Time’ over a number of months. Recorded on his mobile phone, it details life at the Manus Island offshore immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

A still from the film 'Chauka, Please Tell Us The Time'.
A still from the film 'Chauka, Please Tell Us The Time'.
Sydney Film Festival

The footage was sent to co-director Arash Kamali Sarvestani, who is based in the Netherlands.

The two directors have been nominated for the festival's Grierson Award in the Best Documentary category, which recognises “outstanding feature-length documentaries of integrity, originality, technical excellence or cultural significance”.

“This is a great honour for any director,” Mr Boochani declared in his letter.

“My movie was also selected to be shown [at] the Sydney Film Festival earlier this year, where it had its world premiere, but the Australian government did not allow me to attend. I am asking you to give me a visa to attend the London Film Festival.”

Mr Boochani stated that he has been held at Manus by the Australian government for over four years.

“I have committed no crime,” he said, claiming that he was “exiled by force”.

Image from Behrouz Boochani on Twitter, protest at Manus Island day 37.

The British High Commissioner shared her response on Twitter, advising him to submit his visa application directly to the Home Office’s UK Visas and Immigration department.

“I am pleased to hear that your film has been selected to play at the London Film Festival – congratulations,” she wrote.

“As High Commissioner to Australia, I am afraid I do not have any role in considering individual visa applications.”

She advised him that if he chooses to apply, his application “will be decided on its individual merits and in line with the UK’s immigration rules”.

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