Review “No Friend But The Mountains” – Australia’s Manus Island Concentration Camp Exposed

No Friend but the Mountains Writing from Manus Prison

“No Friend but the Mountains. Writing from Manus Prison” by Behrouz Boochani  is a powerful and moving account of the  Kurdish Iranian poet, writer and  film  maker’s 5 year incarceration without charge or trial  in Australia’s Manus Island Prison (Manus Regional Processing Centre, Manus Island  Concentration Camp) for having sought asylum as a refugee in Australia and having arrived by boat. Thousands of refugees arriving in Australia, mostly Muslims or Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka’s Tamil Genocide, have been highly abusively  incarcerated in such remote concentration camps, this representing an indelible stain on Australia’s reputation.

  1. “No Friend but the Mountains” joins other classic prison literature.

“No Friend but the Mountains. Writing from Manus Prison” by Behrouz Boochani [1] was written in Farsi and incredibly tapped out  on a mobile phone for translation into English  by Dr Omar Tofighian. Acclaimed Tasmanian  writer Richard Flanagan (author  of  “Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish” (2001),  “The Unknown Terrorist” (2006),  “Wanting” (2008),  “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” (2013), and many other works) [2] commences his Foreward to the book thus: “No Friend but the Mountains is a book that can rightly take its place on the shelf of world prison literature , alongside such diverse works as Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, Antonio  Gramsci ‘s  Prison Notebooks, Ray Parkin’s Into the Smother, Wole Soyinka’s The Man Died, and Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham  Jail” (page vii [1]).

Indeed to this list one can add works from the WW2 European  Holocaust concentration camps (notably  “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, and “If this is a Man” by Primo Levi ), from the Stalinist gulags in Russia (notably “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, “In the First Circle”  and “The Gulag Archipelago” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn), from Stalinist  prisons in Hungary (notably “Political Prisoner” by Paul Ignotus and “Seven Years Solitary” by Dr Edith Bone, a cousin of my grandmother), and Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom”).

  1. Australia’s gross maltreatment of refugees violates international law.

Richard Flanagan comments; “Reading this book is difficult for any Australian. We pride ourselves on decency , kindness, generosity  and a fair go. None of these qualities are evident in Boochani’s account of hunger, squalor , beatings, suicide and murder… Someone must answer for these crimes” (page ix [1]).  Before reviewing the book per se, it is useful to summarize Australia’s appalling system of gross maltreatment of refugees. International law says that (a) entering a country to seek asylum  is not a crime, and (b)  refugees can be briefly and humanely detained  short-term to permit health,  security and status checks. However successive Australian governments have  (a) falsely described asylum seekers arriving by boat as “illegal entrants” , and (b) subjected such refugees to highly abusive, indefinite  detention  without charge or trial in remote concentration camps, notably in other countries

This policy of highly-abusive, long-term imprisonment of refugees (including women and children) without charge or trial in remote, onshore or offshore  concentration camps has been bipartisan (presently Coalition Government and Labor Opposition) policy for 2 decades.  While Labor refugee policy has attempted to be more humane than Coalition policy, it was actually Labor which introduced mandatory detention for refugees not having citizenship or a valid visa (under the Paul Keating Labor Government in 1992), and the indefinite mandatory detention of boat arrivals in off-shore detention centres (concentration camps) in regional countries, specifically Nauru for refugee families and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, for men without families (under the Kevin Rudd Labor Government in 2013) [3-5]. These laws grossly violate the UN 1951 Refugee Convention,  the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to all of which Australia is a signatory [6-8].

As at June 2014 there were the following number of people in immigration detention in Australian territory or in neighbouring countries: 1,169 (Nauru), 1,189 (Manus Island, Papua New Guinea), 1,077 (Christmas Island, Australian territory), 2,547 (Mainland detention in Australia), and 3,007 (Community Detention in Mainland Australia, this involving enforced poverty through exclusion from work, frequent  reporting to authorities and constraints on location) [3 52]. Most of the thousands of such international law- and human rights-violating incarcerations by US lackey, pro-Zionist and substantially  anti-Arab anti-Semitic and Islamophobic Australia have been of Muslim refugees (mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the 4-nation Kurdistan region, Lebanon, Myanmar (Rohingyans), Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria) (page 123 [1])  or of  refugees fleeing the Apartheid Israel-backed Sri Lankan Tamil Genocide (Australia-backed Apartheid Israel supplied war boats, war planes, missiles, weapons,  military advisers and strategic advice to the Sri Lanka Government) [1, 9, 10, 11].

Racist Australian perfidy in this gross human rights violation of refugees is dramatized when one considers notorious examples of European countries enforcing highly abusive and indefinite imprisonment of subjects – including children – without charge or trial e.g.  Nazi Germany (applied to Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, socialists and homosexuals, 1933-1945) [12], Australia-backed  and Apartheid Israel-backed Apartheid South Africa (confinement of non-Europeans in specific urban  areas and Bantustans under Apartheid, 1948-1991) [13], and Australia-backed Apartheid Israel (mostly Muslim Occupied Palestinians in the Gaza Concentration Camp, 2 million,  or in military-guarded West Bank ghettoes, 3 million, 1967-present) [15, 16].

  1. Manus Concentration Camp illustrates the  dominant politically correct racism (PC racism) of White Australia.

Australians will vehemently assert that “I am  not a racist , but…”. Politically  correct racism (PC racism) means that nice, “fair go”, egalitarian, “I am  not a racist”  White Australians overwhelmingly support the US lackey, pro-war and racist Lib-Labs (the Liberal Party-National Party Coalition presently governing Australia and the Labor Party that is presently in opposition) in their bipartisan policy of grossly  maltreating boat-borne refugees in offshore concentration camps.  War is the penultimate in racism and the Coalition has supported all post-1950 US Asian wars. A boat-related clue to this racist heartlessness is that asylum seekers arriving by plane are allowed to set their feet on sacred Australian soil in on-shore detention centres. Apart from European shipwrecked sailors and pirates, the first White settlers came with the boat-borne British invasion on 26 January  1788 (celebrated  as Australia Day by PC racist Whites and .commemorated as Invasion  Day or Indigenous Genocide Day by Indigenous Australian and their anti-racist supporters). Occupation and substantial ethnic cleansing  of the whole Australian continent quickly followed,  with the Indigenous population dropping form circa 1 million to 0.1 million in the first century. Of an original 350-700 Indigenous languages and dialects only 150 remain and of these all but 20 are endangered [17-21 ].  Non-European entry was mandated by the so-called White Australia Policy (1901-1973), thousands of kidnapped Melanesian slaves (Kanaks) and their descendants were forcibly repatriated back to South Pacific islands after 1901,  and trade with Muslim Macassan sailors, who had peacefully traded with Indigenous Australians  for centuries,  was banned in 1907 [11].

White Australia has had an enduring fear of non-Europeans and  Asians and especially those coming by sea. Former post-WW2 Minister for Immigration and thence Labor leader, Arthur Calwell,  encapsulated these racist fears by saying “We will not let the yellow hordes contaminate our golden shores” [21],  and indeed the Australian national anthem is controversially “Advance Australia Fair”.  Asian and non-European immigration from abolition of the White Australia Policy in 1973 and from a continuing influx of refugees from Australia-backed US wars has changed the demographics of Australia. Thus Australia is now 74% “White” and 24% “non-White” but Whites occupy 95% of “leadership positions” in corporations  and government  with only 5% of such positions occupied by non-Whites [22, 23].  The public racism against  Asians and non-Europeans  has shifted to public hysteria about miniscule “African gangs”,  Sinophobia [24], and entrenched, Neocon  American and Zionist Imperialist (NAZI)-promoted, post-9-11  anti-Arab anti-Semitism and  Islamophobia [11].  One hastens to state that while 80% of Australians are at best PC racist, the Australian Socialists, Greens and Labor Left are overwhelmingly anti-racist.

Put simply, White Australia’s evident fear and hatred of boat-borne refugees may stem from the subliminal  fear  that just as the British  came by boat and grossly and genocidally violated  the Indigenous inhabitants, so the Other  may come by boat from populous Asia and do the same to White Australia

  1. Detailed review of “No Friend But The Mountains”

Crucially,  in recounting the experiences of  highly-abusively imprisoned   refugees, the author could have adopted the scientific, facts-and-figures approach as outlined above, or have taken the more profound approach of addressing the psychological  impact of these events – as a poet Behrouz Boochani has adopted the deeply empathic latter approach, and the result has been a very moving book of extraordinary power and impact.  Further, Behrouz Boochani, all refugees  and indeed all people have a  deep attachment to their homeland. This is reinforced throughout  Boochani’s prose and poetry.  Bear in mind in reading this detailed review that basic empathy for fellow humanity means that decent people will treat refugees with the kindness  shown not only to people in need but also to people who have suffered bereavement.  However such kindness is absent  from those creating  and those guarding the Nauru Concentration Camp, the Manus Island Concentration Camp, the Gaza Concentration Camp and like abominations around the world. The present existence of 70 million refugees and internally displaced people – substantially Muslims and victims of the US Alliance and Apartheid Israeli War on Muslims – is an indictment of Humanity.  The prisoners in the Manus Island Concentration Camp are held without charge or trial, and are indefinitely and  highly abusively  imprisoned for attempting to be free.

“Foreward” by Richard Flanagan. This eminent Tasmanian novelist passionately  declares: “Someone is responsible, and it is they, and not the innocent, to whose great suffering this book bears such disturbing witness, who should be in jail” (page ix [1].

Translator’s Tale: A Window to the Mountains” by the translator Dr Omar Tofighian, provides a detailed insight into the good people behind the ultimate publication of the book, and the subtleties of translation from Farsi into English. He concludes: “There are many ways to interpret Behrouz’s narratives: however, his main objective is to draw attention to the realities of systematic torture in Manus Prison. The book functions to move readers to resist the colonial mindset that is driving Australia’s detention regime and to inspire self-reflection, deep investigation and direct action. The shared philosophical project is open-ended – it is an open call to action” (page xxxiv [1]). One notes that the variously traumatized inmates of Manus Prison are all men. Many of the  refugee children confined to the  Nauru Concentration Camp have been  severely traumatized. Thus the Refugee Council of Australia: “In 2013, Amnesty International reported that Australia’s policy of offshore processing was breaking people. Six years on, people are broken. Children as young as 7 and 12 are experiencing repeated incidents of suicide attempts, dousing themselves in petrol, and becoming catatonic. At least two people have killed themselves, and three others have died. Many more are trying to kill or harm themselves. People are losing their hope and their lives on this island. This is Australia’s man-made refugee crisis in the country it still treats as a colony, Nauru. Experts are saying that the people transferred to Nauru by Australia are among the most traumatised they have seen, even more traumatised than those in war zones or in refugee camps around the world” [25].

Chapter 1, “Under Moonlight/ The Colour of Anxiety” commences with one of numerous poems that occur throughout the book: “Under moonlight/ An unknown route/ A sky the  colour of anxiety” (page 1 [1]). This chapter describes the highly anxious  truck journey  to the  Indonesian beach where the refugees will embark on a boat for Australia. The author introduces us to his succinct and evocative way of naming the otherwise un-named characters in his book e.g. “The Blue Eyed Boy” and “The Friend of the Blue Eyed Boy”.

Chapter 2, “Mountains and Waves/ Chestnuts and Death/ That River… This Sea”, recounts a first attempted sea voyage in a crowded and unsafe boat: “When humans struggle over territory/ It always reeks of violence and bloodshed/ Even if the conflict is over a location the size of one body/ On a small boat/ And only for a period of two days” (page 13 [1]).  Exhausted by bailing water, Boochani sleeps and dreams of the mountains, chestnut trees and rivers of Kurdistan.  Powerful prose and poetry describe survival on a foundering, over-crowded boat  in huge seas: “The waves beat on the crushed and bashed bodies of the damned/ Life comes and goes/ Death comes and goes/ On and on” (page 41[ 1]).  Boochani’s powerful writing  recalls the riveting and horrifying painting  “The Raft of the Medusa” by Théodore Géricault [26] (click to enlarge the image).

Chapter 3, “The Raft of Purgatory/ Moons Will Tell Terrible Truth” recounts rescue by an Indonesia boat and then a second dire and deadly attempted boat trip that ends with rescue by an Australian warship: “Rescued. Relocated/ A second boat/ Another journey from Indonesia/ Another trial: a test of the will/ Unsure we will reach safety/ Purgatory” (page 45 [1]). Boochani writes that he hates the moon for illuminating their hopeless situation before final rescue: “The darkness is increasingly encroaching / The moon hides itself behind the dark skin of the night/ In the grip of hopelessness I also experience joy/ See, with disappearance  of the moon I feel more secure/ Sometimes ignorance of the truth brings tranquillity… Truth is a contradiction/ Truth is a concoction/ Fear, serenity and anguish/ The moon disappears/ Gloom, despair, murkiness” (page 61 [1]).

Chapter 4, “The Warship Meditations/ Our Golshifteh Is Truly Beautiful”, describes the author’s  feelings and the fellow refugees sitting on the deck of the  Australian warship,  and in particular  a proud, unbowed Kurdish woman sitting with her family: “That woman’s face is still exuberant/ Her appearance still beautiful/ Her pride still flourishing/ Her clothes are torn and her body smells like the other distressed people there/ Smelling like the sea/ Smelling bitter/But Our Golshifteh remains proud/ She remains captivating/ Our Golshifteh laughs at all this distress/ Laughs at all the misery/ Laughing with those dark, alluring eyes/ Those eyes flaming like small suns” (page 67 [1] ). They land at Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and Boochani describes a free and innocent Australian child bather: “She is free/ She is innocent/ She is like the cool gentle breeze on this sunny day/ My first real impression of Australia”  (page 79 [1]). Indeed this poem captures the essence of Australia that is often described by Australians as “the lucky country”,  this being the title  of a 1964 book by Donald Horne [27].

Chapter 5, “A Christmas (Island) Rule/ A Stateless Rohingya Boy Sent Away to Follow the Star of Exile”,  describes how the author and fellow male refugees were imprisoned in a cage  as a prelude to boarding a plane to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The Lebanese refugees who resisted this (noting that Australia has a large Lebanese-origin population) were beaten into submission by Australian guards: “Lebanese refugees stood up to defy the guards who wanted to load them on board. But the guards smashed them and beat them down. They annihilated them, beat down on the arms and faces of a few of them. The guards dragged their battered and blood-soaked bodies over the concrete. They banished them to Manus Island. No matter how the refugees tried to resist , they couldn’t alter the political machinations of a [Liberal Party-National Party Coalition] government, a government that had just recently taken power, that had gone mad with the mere whiff of power” (page 90 [1]).

While Boochani has the pleasure of meeting  up with fellow Kurds in the Manus Prison , he has deep sympathy for The Rohingya Boy who has nobody who speaks his language (en passant,  the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Myanmar democracy leader,  Aung San Suu Kyi, who has disgracefully become a party to the Myanmar Rohingya Genocide, was inspired as a teenager by the book “Seven Years Solitary” by Dr Edith Bone, a cousin of my grandmother [28, 29], stating in the 2011 BBC Reith lectures: “The first autobiography I ever read was providentially, or prophetically, or perhaps both, Seven Years Solitary, by a Hungarian woman who had been in the wrong faction during the Communist Party purges of the early 1950s. At 13 years old, I was fascinated by the determination and ingenuity with which one woman alone was able to keep her mind sharp and her spirit unbroken through the years when her only human contact was with men whose everyday preoccupation was to try to break her” [29])

Boochani compares the benign sun in his native Kurdistan to the alien and hot tropic sun of Manus Island: “The sun radiates over the beautiful mountain slopes/ It generates heat over the beautiful mountain tops/  It is this sun that everyone eagerly awaits/ It is this sun that everyone longs for/ And this is why this sun graces the centre of the Kurdish flag/ But the tropical location of Manus has the most ruthless sun in the entire world/  As soon as it gets the chance, it cremates everything/ In the absence of clouds, the sun reigns supreme/  The sun goes on the hunt” (pages 109-110 [1].

Chapter 6, “The Wandering Kowlis Perform/ The Barn Owls Watch”, describes the highly abusive, hot, sweaty and often foul environment of the Manus Island Concentration Camp, with the already traumatized prisoners finding some solace among their national brethren. A man named Maysam the Whore  and his associates entertain with dancing, clapping and drumming. Boochani describes the alienation, distrust and loneliness produced by what he calls the  prison’s Kyriarchal System (defined by sociologists as a social system designed for domination, oppression, and submission, the name deriving from the Greek kyrios meaning lord or master) [30]: “This is the objective of the  prison’s Kyriarchal System, to drive prisoners to extreme distrust so that they become lonelier and more isolated, until the  prison’s Kyriarchal Logic triumphs with their collapse and demise” (page 126 [1]. Boochani concludes: “Over the following months, the pretend celebrations and partying prove to be no match for the oppression of the prison, for loneliness and hopelessness. As days go by in Manus Prison, even  Maysam the Whore becomes more secluded and starts to deteriorate. We must find another way to cope with exile” (page 148 [1]).

Chapter 7, “The Oldman Generator/ The Prime Minister and  His Daughters”, describes the layout of the Manus Prison around 6 main corridors, the sweat, stench, mosquitoes, foul latrines, violence and queuing for toilets, food, cigarettes or phone calls: “The atmosphere in the prison is constituted by micro-level and macro-level disciplinary  measures designed to create animosity between the prisoners. Hatred runs through every prisoner” (page 165 [1]).  The electricity generator keeps on stopping through breakdown or design with consequent stoppage of water for the latrines and general stench: “Those in charge of the generator are acutely aware of how easy it is to dominate the prisoners, simply by pressing a switch” (page 175 [1]). The Prime Minister is a distinguished  intellectual and leader who seeks some sort of order in this madness and  gathers a following, but “The Prime Minister, our esteemed intellectual, himself becomes intolerable” (page 181 [1]) and indeed his position becomes intolerable – he has to accept refoulement (forcible return of a refugee or asylum seeker to a country where they are liable for persecution) in order to try to protect his family.

Chapter 8, “Queuing as Torture: Manus Prison Logic/ The Happy Cow”, describes queuing for food, cigarettes,  the phone and medical attention. A man named The Cow always manages to be at the head of the queues. Less aggressive people are fed last and most poorly.

Chapter 9, “Father’s Day/ The Magnificent Mango Tree and The Gentle Giant”, tells an awful story about The Father Of The Months-Old Child whose own father, The Grandfather, is dying but is way back in the phone queue. A decent guy, The Man With The Thick Moustache, negotiates The Father Of The Months-Old Child up to the head of the queue but an upward  succession of Australian guards in the hierarchy right up to The Boss  won’t change their rules and the phone call to the dying man cannot be made. What bastards. The cigarette queue enables bribery of the Papus (the easy-going male Papuan guards,  who love to smoke). An overhanging mango tree drops fruit into the prison compound and Kurdish prisoners take ownership of this resource. When The Cunning Young Man scores a mango, The Joker demands it of the terrified fellow  but The Giant intervenes , The Joker and his associates are silent and The Cunning Young Man keeps the mango. Boochani describes the hot, sleepless nights: “The crabs… / The ants…/  The bats…/ The birds… / And the officers… / They all remain awake/ And the breeze rustles the leaves of that magnificent mango tree/ The sound of the waves drifts in/ The sound of the ocean reaches in/ That sound creeps in from behind the jungle” (page 243 [1]).

Chapter 10, “Chanting of Crickets, Ceremonies of Cruelty/ A Mythic Topography of Manus Prison”, describes a night-time adventure. Boochani has a tooth ache and cannot sleep. He hears moaning coming from the direction of the solitary confinement area called the Green Zone. He succeeds in getting cat-like onto the prison roof with good view of the Green  Zone. He thinks about Kurdistan and his first loves. Suddenly he witnesses an escaping prisoner, The Prophet, who,  trapped by a  Papu and Australian guards, wraps himself around a coconut tree, and  makes an  impassioned statement: “We are all human beings. Humans caring for other humans. This is the righteous path. And this is the affliction of humankind. Humans caring for humans. Humans against incarceration. Not humans antagonizing humans. And not even humans against  this very coconut tree. This coconut is tree also a human being. This coconut tree is my beloved” (page 276 [1]). The Prophet is subdued by 24 special security officers, the Rhinos, who leave him lying there to be beaten periodically by the other  Australian officers.  Boochani  sleeps and dreams of  a proud and beautiful  Kurdish maiden.

Chapter 11, “The Flowers Resembling Chamomile/ Infection: Manus Prison Syndrome”, describes Boochani finding solace in a special, largely deserted spot decorated with  The Flowers Resembling Chamomile (as in his native Kurdistan) that is also visited by Hamid, The Smiling Youth. This young man has running sores but is subject to triage by the limited medical services. Prisoners regularly self-harm with razors. One man The Hero has been trying to make himself a leader and makes a speech telling everyone to disperse. However a voice from the darkness speaks up , saying “Ah man, just come down”.  Humiliated, The Hero seeks the speaker out and “Moments later, punches and kicks rain down, the only sound reverberating in that dim space , a place existing  on the cusp  of darkness and light” (page 325 [1]).

Chapter 12, “In Twilight/ The Colours of War” describes a revolt by the prisoners against the Australian officers and the Kyriarchal System that is put down with great violence. Behrouz Boochani mourns those who died in this saga of abusive imprisonment, evoking the song of the Chauka bird: “Chauka laments/ The Hero laments/ The chant of a bird and the chant of a Man/ Both chants blend into one/This lament… of nature… this lamentation of nature/ This lament … of a human… this lamentation of the human being” (page 356 [1]).

Final comments and conclusions.

In an Epilogue the translator  notes that the Manus Island Concentration Camp  was declared illegal by Papua New Guinea (PNG)  in 2016 and was closed in October 2017, with the inmates being moved to other accommodation. Behrouz Bouchani remains on Manus Island. The translator gives  Behrouz Bouchani the final words of the book: “Respect is central. We need that to continue resisting. We need respect to become stronger and fiercer. This will take time, but I’ll continue challenging the system and I will win in the end. It’s a long road, but I’ll do it” (page 374 [1]).

It is extraordinary that a rich, prosperous, educated, democratic, internally peaceful  and significantly progressive  country like Australia would highly abusively and indefinitely imprison thousands of desperate refugees – men , women and children variously fleeing racism, persecution, war and genocide  – without charge or trial in remote, offshore concentration camps, with the collateral consequences of death, injury, extensive trauma and mental illness. The answer is simply that Zionist-subverted, US lackey, White Australia suffers from a collective cognitive dissonance when it comes to the hundreds of millions of victims of Zionist and American racism, anti-Arab anti-Semitism,  Islamophobia and genocidal wars  in the 3-decade,  Australia-complicit and  Zionist-backed US War on Muslims. Of course war is the penultimate in racism, with genocidal war being the ultimate in racism [12, 31-44]. Australia has been involved in all post-1950 US Asian Wars, atrocities  associated with about 50 million Asian deaths from violence or war-imposed deprivation [12, 32, 34, 45].

Politically  correct racism (PC racism) of Australia means that successive Lib-Lab (Liberal Party-National Party Coalition and Labor) Australian governments have obscenely and falsely justified mass imprisonment of refugees without charge or trial in remote concentration camps in foreign jurisdictions in terms of “saving refugees lives at sea” through discouraging attempted passage to Australia on boats. These racist  hypocrites thus declare their “love for the refugees” while inflicting illegal, appalling,  traumatizing, and long-term collective punishment on refugees, and declaring  hatred for “people smugglers”. Thus the  pro-American, pro-Zionist, pro-war, former Labor PM of Australia, Kevin Rudd, made the following assertions about people trying to find safe haven for refugees, people commonly referred to a “people smugglers” in Australia (2009): “People smugglers are engaged in the world’s most evil trade and they should all rot in jail because they represent the absolute scum of the earth. People smugglers are the vilest form of human life. They trade on the tragedy of others and that’s why they should rot in jail and in my own view, rot in hell. We see this lowest form of human life at work in what we saw on the high seas yesterday. That’s why this Government maintains its hardline, tough, targeted approach to maintaining border protection for Australia” [46, 47].

One can well ask that if those trying to find safe haven for over 30 million Muslim refugees are “the absolute scum of the earth” who should “rot in jail” and “rot in hell”, how then does one describe the genocidal warmongers of the Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist (NAZI)-beholden US Alliance and Apartheid Israel (including  Australia) that created over 30 million Muslim refugees in the first place? Of course, most Australians have  encountered an heroic “people smuggler” in Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities”.

One notes that Australia is second only to Trump America as a supporter of nuclear terrorist, racist Zionist-run, genocidally racist, serial war criminal, democracy-by-genocide Apartheid  Israel. The highly abusive Australian imprisonment of thousands of refugees without charge or trial pales into insignificance when compared to the 2 million Indigenous Palestinians highly  abusively imprisoned in the blockaded and bombed Gaza Concentration Camp. Indeed while Australian media extensively covered  the  recent Apartheid Israeli elections (won by serial war criminal and genocidally racist psychopath  Netanyahu), none as far as I know reported the Elephant-in-the-Room reality  that of the 50% of Apartheid Israeli subjects who are Indigenous Palestinians, 72% are excluded from voting for the government ruling them – egregious and criminal Apartheid [48-52].

Decent and humane Australian journalist, Paul Bongiorno, in reviewing “No Friend but the Mountains” stated: “I believe it is worthy of a Nobel prize for literature. It is certainly up there with other  letters from prison, it has been suggested it ranks with Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. I would go further, it ranks with Primo Levi’s “Survival in Auschwitz.”” [53] . Indeed human rights activists Dr Vacy Vlazna, Professor Stuart Rees AM and famed refugee advocate Julian Burnside AO QC  wrote to 50 professors of literature and linguistics from 18 Australian universities asking if they would nominate “No Friend but the Mountains” for the Nobel Prize in Literature – but none even replied [54].

“No Friend but the Mountains. Writing from Manus Prison” by Behrouz Boochani is a powerful and moving testament to the horrible abuses he and his fellow refugees suffered at the hands of the Australians, and   has been awarded the Victorian Premier’s Literary Prize for Non-Fiction (worth $25,000), and the Victorian Prize for Literature (worth $100,000). This book should be in every school, local, state and university library.  This gifted writer , Behraz Boochani, is still on Manus Island.

What should  decent people do? Decent people who believe in all human rights for everyone should (a) read the book (they will be shocked and inspired), (b) inform everyone they can, (c)  demand arraignment  and judicial punishment of the responsible  Australian politicians and their complicit subordinates, and (d) urge and apply action (e.g. Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS) against all countries which generate mass refugee movement or which grossly violate the human rights of refugees  The present Labor Opposition in Australia, while still supporting mandatory offshore detention,  argues that in its 6 years of government the presently ruling Coalition should have taken much more urgent steps to re-settle these refugees. The decent Australian Greens  have always vociferously opposed mandatory offshore detention and other  maltreatment of refugees.

Australian Human Rights Commissioner and outstanding advocate for refugee human rights, Professor Gillian Triggs, declared (2017): “[Australia’s human rights are] regressing on almost every front… Whether it’s women, Indigenous, homeless and most of course asylum seekers and refugees … I think it’s partly because we have a [Coalition] government that is ideologically opposed to human rights” [55].  In the forthcoming elections decent Australian will utterly reject the pro-war, serial war criminal, human rights-abusing  and refugee-violating Coalition, vote 1 Green, put the racist One Nation last and put the PC racist Coalition second last.


[1]. Behrouz Boochani, “No Friend But The Mountains. Writing from Manus Prison”, Picador , Sydney, 2018.

[2]. Richard Flanagan, Wikipedia: .

[3]. Human Rights Commission, “Face the facts: asylum seekers and refugees”, 2014: .

[4]. Refugee Council of Australia, “Statistics on people in detention in Australia”, 15 February 2019: .

[5]. Refugee Council of Australia, “Australia’s detention policies”, 17 May 2016: .

[6]. “Convention relating to the Status of Refugees”, Wikipedia: .

[7]. “Convention on the Rights of the Child”, Wikipedoa:

[8]. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, UN: .

[9]. Krisna Saravanamuttu,  “Israel advises Sri Lanka on slow-motion genocide”, Electronic Intifada, 30 July 2013: .

[10]. “Israel-Sri Lanka relations”, Wikipedia: .

[11]. Gideon Polya, “Australian’s  Massacre Of 50 Muslims In New Zealand  Spotlights Entrenched Australian Islamophobia & Anti-Arab Anti-Semitism”, Countercurrents, 1 April 2019: .

[12]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, that includes a succinct history of every country and is now available for free perusal on the web:  .

[13]. “Apartheid”, Wikipedia: .

[14]. Nelson Mandela, “Long Walk to Freedom”, Abacus, 1994.

[15]. Gideon Polya, “70th anniversary of Apartheid Israel & commencement of large-scale Palestinian Genocide”, Countercurrents, 11 May 2018: .

[16]. Gideon Polya, “Israeli-Palestinian & Middle East conflict – from oil to climate genocide”, Countercurrents, 21 August 2017: .

[17]. “Aboriginal Genocide”: .

[18]. “Australian frontier wars” , Wikipedia: .

[19]. Gideon Polya, “As UK Lackeys Or US Lackeys Australians Have Invaded 85 Countries (British 193, French 80, US 70)”, Countercurrents, 9 February, 2015: .

[20]. Gideon Polya, “British Have Invaded 193 Countries:  Make  26 January ( Australia Day, Invasion Day) British Invasion Day”, Countercurrents, 23 January, 2015: .

[21]. Gideon Polya, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability”, G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998, 2008 that  is now available for free perusal on the web:  .

[22]. Tim Soutphomassane, Greg Whitwell, Kate Jordan and Philipp Ivanov, “Leading for Change. A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership revisited”, 2018.

[23]. Gideon Polya, “Review: “Leading for change”- corporate cultural diversity deficiency and Australian financial scandals”, Countercurrents, 3 May 20198: .

[24]. Gideon Polya,”Australian Sinophobia and China-bashing from colonial persecution & White Australia to Trump America’s Asia deputy sheriff”,  ”, Countercurrents, 26 Januaty 2018: .

[25]. Refugee Council of Australia, “Australia’s ’ man-made crisis on Nauru”, 3 September 2018: .

[26]. “The Raft of the Medusa”, Wikipedia: .

[27]. Donald Horne, “The Lucky Country”, Penguin, 1964.

[28]. Edith Bone, “Seven Years Solitary”, Hamish Hamilton, 1957.

[29]. Aung San Suu Kyi, BBC Reith Lectures 2011: Securing Freedom, Lecture 1: Liberty: .

[30]. “Kyriarchy”, Wikipedia: .

[31]. Gideon Polya, “Lying By Omission, Avoidable Mortality From Deprivation, Holocaust Denial & Looming Terracide”, Countercurrents, 4 April 2019: .

[32]. Gideon Polya, “Australian’s  Massacre Of 50 Muslims In New Zealand Spotlights Entrenched Australian Islamophobia & Anti-Arab Anti-Semitism”, Countercurrents, 1 April 2019: .

[33]. “Stop state terrorism”: .

[34]. Gideon Polya, “Paris Atrocity Context: 27 Million Muslim Avoidable  Deaths From Imposed Deprivation In 20 Countries Violated By US Alliance Since 9-11”, Countercurrents, 22 November, 2015: .

[35]. “Experts: US did 9-11”: .

[36]. “Iraqi Holocaust Iraqi Genocide”: .

[37]. “Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”: .

[38]. “Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide”: .

[39]. Gideon Polya, “Iraqi Holocaust”, ConScience column, Australasian Science, 2 June 2004:  .

[40]. Gideon Polya, “Passive Genocide In Iraq”, Countercurrents, 11 March, 2005: .

[41]. Gideon Polya, “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality”, ABC Radio National, Ockham’s Razor, 28 August 2005: .

[42]. Gideon Polya, “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality”,  in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: .

[43]. Phillip Dorling, “Pine Gap drives US drone kills”, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 July 2013: .

[44]. Michael Brull, “Sanctioned murder: Australia’s role in drone strikes on innocent civilians is growing:, New Matilda, 8 October 2016: .

[45]. Gideon Polya, “As UK Lackeys Or US Lackeys Australians Have Invaded 85 Countries (British 193, French 80, US 70)”, Countercurrents, 9 February, 2015: .

[46]. Gideon Polya, “World refugee week”, MWC News, 23 June 2012: .

[47]. “Rudd wants people smugglers to “rot in hell”, ABC News, 17 April 2009: .

[48.] “Israel election 2019”, ABC Late Night Live, 3 April 2019: .

[49]. Gideon Polya, “70th anniversary of Apartheid Israel & commencement of large-scale Palestinian Genocide”, Countercurrents, 11 May 2018: .

[50]. Gideon Polya, “Israeli-Palestinian & Middle East conflict – from oil to climate genocide”, Countercurrents, 21 August 2017: .

[51]. “Boycott Apartheid  Israel”:

[52]. “Gaza Concentration Camp”:  .

[53]. “Paul Bongiorno. No Friend But The Mountains”, John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations, 2 October 2018: .

[54]. Vacy Vlazna, “Christchurch, Nobel and the Aussie comatose conscience”, Countercurrents, 23 March 2019: .

[55]. Michael Slezak, “Gillian Triggs: Australian government “ideologically opposed to human rights””, Guardian, 26 July 2017:

Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007:

) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see:  ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others:  ;  Gideon Polya:  ; Gideon Polya Writing: ; Gideon Polya, Wikipedia: ) . When words fail one can say it in pictures – for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: and  .


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