The Bitter Shore

The Bitter Shore

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To escape religious persecution in Iran, Zahra and Saeed Badraie made the heart-breaking decision to leave their home behind and find a better life for their family elsewhere.

The agent they approached to help them flee told the Badraies that there was only one place the people smugglers could take them: Australia, a far-away country, but a generous one that would give them refuge. After suffering the smuggler's lies and deceit, and a voyage across dangerous seas in a small boat, Zahra, Saeed and their son Shayan arrived in Darwin.

Instead of the warm welcome they were expecting, the boat's refugees were transported to and interred at Woomera Detention Centre. The Badraies found themselves being treated like criminals and surrounded by barbed wire and despair. Zahra and Saeed did the best they could to endure, never giving up hope that the agent's "generous" Australia would release them so they could begin their lives again.

But for Shayan, Woomera was unbearable. He witnessed horrific acts and was subjected to appalling treatment. For Shayan, Australia was not freedom - it was irreversible psychological damage and almost certain death.

Jacquie Everitt is a vocal campaigner against the mandatory detention of refugees and was instrumental in helping the Badraies gain refugee status. Lyrical, moving and shocking, The Bitter Shore is her account of the atrocious experiences of Zahra, Saeed and Shayan in Woomera and Villawood and the court case that took on the Howard government.