Writing in Exile
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‘As a Kurd, I was stateless until I became an Australian, and Australia is the only official home I have, because Kurdistan does not exist on a map.’
Journalist Roza Germian lived through war for most of her childhood. In 1991, when Germian was 10, she was one of more than one million Kurds who fled Saddam Hussein's Iraq following the Iraqi retaliation to the Kurdish uprising. With her family, she later found temporary refuge in Turkey, and then moved permanently to Brisbane at age 15, when her family gained humanitarian visas.
As a teenager, Germian learned English and then went on to gain two university degrees. She now works as the executive producer on SBS Radio's Kurdish programme, where her earliest experiences of terror, persecution and prejudice continue to inform her journalistic work.
At SBS, Germian has continued to highlight stories that concern the Kurdish community here and abroad, from the ISIS conflict to Kurds held in Australia's immigration detention system. Hosted by Sami Shah, the remarkable Germian will share her story and discuss her life and work.
This event will be Auslan interpreted.
Comedian and writer Sami Shah has been profiled in the New York Times and ABC's Australian Story, and appeared on BBC Radio 4, BBC Asian Network, TEDx, The Project and the Soho Theatre. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia and is co-presenter of 774 / ABC Breakfast Radio.
Roza Germian was born in the second year of the eight year-long Iran-Iraq war, in the city of Kirkuk under the Baathist rule. The majority of Kirkuk’s population were of Kurdish background and regularly targeted by the Baathist regime. In 1991, during the first Gulf War, her family along with four million Kurdish people became refugees in Iran and Turkey. Roza’s family arrived in Australia in 1996, where she later studied journalism. Roza is now the Executive Producer for the SBS Radio Kurdish Program.
‘Exiles see double, feel double, are double,’ André Aciman has written. ‘When exiles see one place, they're also seeing – or looking for – another behind it.’
For this series, in partnership with PEN Melbourne, we’ll draw on the double vision of some incredible international writers, living and working in exile here in Melbourne. What are the dangers, sorrows and consolations of writing about home, away from home? How can distance warp and focus a writer’s perspective? And what do Australians need to know about the freedoms denied to citizens of other countries? Hosted by Sami Shah – himself an exiled writer originally from Pakistan – we’ll hear from journalists, authors and poets.
Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.