Local Resistance 8b - Political Resistance


Resisting Neo-Colonialism

‘The message that it sends to the rest of the world and the Pacific is that we can be used as a deterrent factor…We are basically allowing ourselves to grovel at the feet of Australian neo-colonialism.’

Governor Gary Juffa  (Oro Province, PNG)

Local landowners on Manus have at times expressed discontent with Australia’s operation of the detention centre on their land. Several politicians in PNG have also challenged Australia’s neo-colonial relationship with PNG. Both politicians and local community members articulate frustration about how Australia’s colonial intervention and deliberate orchestration of tensions between asylum seekers and local community members has resulted in unfair, negative representations of Manusians in international media and damaged their reputation.


In 2014, Governor Powes Parkop, a former human rights lawyer, wrote an open letter to Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, published in local newspapers. The letter he highlighted his ‘grave concern’ at the mistreatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island. Parkop also articulated his concerns during 2011 following the announcement that the centre would be reopened.

‘This is an Australian practice which we should guard ourselves against. We are a compassionate nation and people known for our hospitality and compassion in reaching out to people in hardship, distress or seeking comfort. We are also a nation and people who proclaim to be Christian. It is therefore repugnant to our traditional and contemporary culture and to our Christian values to keep such people in near prison-like environment…Let’s have a more human approach that befits our culture, our moral and legal responsibility and lets not act like Australians and allow their policies and culture of detention forever to dictate our approach.’

Governor Powers Parkop (National Capital District, PNG), 2014



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