Deathscapes

The Military Industrial Border Complex 5c - Colonial Hierarchies

Deathscapes

Colonial Hierarchies

A Papua New Guinean man is pictured guarding the War Criminals Compound. A sign above the gate indicates 'Prohibited Area: RAN War Criminal Compound. No Admittance Beyond this Point Without Permission. All Enquiries to be Made at Administration Office by Order Officer-in-Charge.'[imagecaption] Manus Island, 1948. Photo: Australian War Memorial. During this period, local ‘native police’ were used by Australia to guard alleged war criminals. They did so under the supervision of ‘white officials’. The Indigenous population was, and is still, regarded as a labour force to be used as the Australian authorities see fit.[/imagecaption]

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There are continuities between the use of ‘native police’ during WW2 and present-day policing practices on Manus Island. The Australian-funded PNG police mobile squad (a notorious paramilitary wing of the Royal PNG Constabulary that was redeployed to Manus in 2012) comprises  a labour force drawn, not from Manus Island, but from other areas of PNG. Within this mobile squad a culture of violence has developed, with documented cases of violence against both asylum seekers and local people. Mobile squad officers played a role in the death of Reza Barati, beat 21 year old local man Raymond Sipuan to death, ran over 17 year old Kisawen Pokas while he was walking home from school and have been responsible for acts of sexual violence against local women. Families of local victims blame PNG’s participation in Australia’s offshore processing system for the violence they have experienced at the hands of this paramilitary squad.

Racialised labour hierarchies are a part of the ‘Pacific Solution’.  At the RPCs on both Manus Island and Nauru, ‘expats’ from Australia hold the managerial positions, while local workers are given mostly menial tasks. Local workers are paid a fraction of what workers from Australia and New Zealand receive even in the same job. These and other concerns were raised at a community forum on Manus Island in 2016.

 


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