Writing in Captivity

Behrouz Boochani in conversation with Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Behrouz Boochani and Mohamedou Ould Slahi have written two of the most harrowing accounts of imprisonment in the 21st century. In this programme, they first enter into conversation. What does it mean to write when you are in prison? How do you convey the horrors of the system you have unexpectedly found yourself in? Ould Slahi and Boochani will discuss writing as testimony, as resistance and as resilience.

Born in Mauritania, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (1970) was held in the infamous Guantánamo Bay prison for 14 years. He was tortured there, but no charges were ever brought against him. In 2015, while Ould Slahi was still incarcerated, his book Guantánamo Diary was published. In 2016, Ould Slahi was released. His story was adapted into the Hollywood film The Mauritanian.

When Kurdish-Iranian poet and journalist Behrouz Boochani (1983) attempted to flee to Australia in 2013, he was captured at sea and transported by plane to the island of Manus. There, he was unlawfully imprisoned in the so-called “Australian Guantanamo”. While in jail, Boochani secretly wrote Only the Mountains Are My Friends on a phone that was smuggled into the prison. His first-hand account is gruesome but poetic. Boochani has recently released a new book: Freedom, Only Freedom: The Prison Writings of Behrouz Boochani.

*This programma will not be streamed


Mohamedou Ould SlahiWriter and former detainee of Guantánamo
Behrouz BoochaniWriter and former detainee of Manus Island