Batoor: A Refugee Journey
Barat Ali Batoor was Afghanistan’s most esteemed photographer, working for the United States Embassy in Kabul. But all of this changed in 2011 when the Washington Post published his potent photo essay exposing one of the country’s darkest secrets – the brutal trade in young ‘dancing boys’ for the purposes of entertainment and prostitution.
Distancing themselves from the ensuing controversy, Batoor was cut loose by his employers. With death threats looming over his head, he found traffickers to smuggle him out of the country, opening the door to the question of whether these agents serve a purpose in preserving human rights as well.
He embarked on a perilous journey that brought him across three continents, trafficked over multiple borders, survived a shipwreck, became lost in the jungles of Indonesia, escaped from imprisonment and spent months living undercover as an illegal immigrant before finally being granted refugee status in Australia.
Remarkably, he photographed and filmed his entire journey, creating a stunning record of life spent on the run – in a dangerous world of asylum seekers, people smuggling and cross border trafficking.
Through his account, BATOOR revisits the sites and people from his journey, presenting the harrowing steps many refugees take in their pursuit of better lives.