Deathscapes

The Military Industrial Border Complex 5b - Manus Island

Deathscapes

The Military-Industrial-Prison-Border Complex: Manus Island

Green army tents are lined up in rows in the Manus camp as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers. [imagecaption]  Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, 2012. Photo: DIAC. Army tents used as temporary accommodation. In February 2014 it was revealed that former Sri Lankan military officer, Dinesh Perera, was employed by G4S and acting as operations manager at the Manus RPC. It was later reported that several people employed as guards on Manus had military backgrounds. A view from inside a row of green army tents on Nauru, showing rows of stretcher beds. Nauru Regional Processing Centre, 2012. Photo: DIAC. Green army tents were also used on Nauru in 2001. Following the riot on Nauru in July 2013, the tents and damaged accommodation units were replaced with white, fire resistant tents which quickly became covered in mould in the tropical environment. A photo of the interior of a mouldy tent on Nauru. Large pedestal fans are in view.Nauru RPC Tents, 2016.[/imagecaption]

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‘More than four years after the termination of hostilities and from one to two years after the original apprehension of the majority of the suspects, their continued incarceration without specific charges and without even a certain prospect of eventual trial can scarcely be reconciled with fundamental concepts of justice.’

SCAP Diplomatic Section letter 1948 [imagecaption] Post WWII, in 1948, the Americans withdrew from Manus and Australia assumed full control. Suspected Japanese War Criminals were held by Australia at various locations including 296 people serving sentences in Rabaul, PNG. International pressure grew for Australia to expedite trials due to considerable unease about people being detained in Australian custody, many without charge or certain prospect of a trial for 1-2 years. Under the Pacific Solution, people seeking asylum, who have not been charged with any crime, again have no prospect of trial have been detained indefinitely, some for almost 5 years. [/imagecaption]


The transfer of an Australian War Criminals Commission (AWCC) to Manus was first discussed in 1947. Australia was seeking a site where the trial of alleged Japanese war criminals could continue and was also interested in redeveloping the US naval base at Lombrum Point, Los Negros, for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). It was proposed that should the AWCC be transferred to Manus, the cheap and relatively skilled prison labour force could be used to help realise the naval base project. During January and March 1949, one AWCC was transferred to Manus and eventually concentrated in a purpose-built compound at Lombrum Point. (Morris, 707-711)


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