4 June, 2015. 09:30
CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | Contact
An independent survey conducted by The Lonely Planet in partnership with the American global information and measurement company, Nielsen, has set about disposing myths regarding the liveability of Australia’s controversial sovereign processing centre, Manus Island.
The results were resounding amongst guards, locals and inmates alike – with 90% agreeing on the fact that the living conditions on Manus Island were actually quite different to what the media makes out.
The survey was conducted to pick-apart claims made by a group of well-known refugee activists – Australians and Allies Overseas Against Mandatory Detention, who have already staged protests across the US, Europe and South America.
Further rallies, organised through social media under the hashtag #ShutDownManus, are planned.
With a well-rounded approach to demographics, the survey has come to show that most residents, be they on the inside or outside of the prison yard – actually think that Manus Island is quite shit.
One of the Australian security guards to be surveyed, Joe*, has stated that Manus Island is even “shitter than the other shitholes” he has worked in.
“Woomera, Nauru, Christmas Island… I mean, those places were shit – but to set up a detention centre in some backwater island in Papua New Guinea… They obviously knew how shit this was going to be from the start,” says Joe, who has also worked in the Australian prison system.
“Mate, I’ve seen child molesters get a better deal than these poor pricks. Bikies, serial killers, you bloody name it… Goulburn (Goulburn Correctional Centre) looks like the f**kin’ Hilton when you compare it to this shithole”
But it isn’t just the local islanders and compound staff that acknowledge how “shit” Manus Island is.
One extremely well-educated “inmate” of Manus Island, Abbas, has also spoken about the peculiar circumstances he finds himself in after spending months at sea in a leaky boat with three toddlers and a terminally ill wife, while trying to flee an evil dictatorship that wanted to see his entire bloodline removed from the face of the earth, simply because he chose to not worship an imaginary supernatural being.
“I understand my family and I chose an unorthodox travel-route. But if I hadn’t spent my life savings to get us all on that boat… I would have been gruesomely murdered in front of my family and they would have then been tortured beyond comprehension,” says the weathered 29 year-old.
“I was a brain-surgeon before my homeland was taken over by the uneducated regime. All I want is to apply my trade elsewhere. I just don’t see the sense in living on this island in tropical heat with limited resources”
“… or being settled in yet another shitty third-world country like New Guinea. This place is pretty grim… I mean it’s nearly on-par with some of the middle-eastern regimes,”
“I am an Atheist. I am a brain surgeon. The Western World could seriously use more people like me.”
Australia’s treatment of refugees in recent years has come under worldwide scrutiny, and the Australian Human Rights Commission released a report blasting current and past governments for keeping children in detention.
The commission’s report found that keeping children in mandatory detention for prolonged periods caused mental and physical illness.
Mr Abbott has blasted the report, dubbing it a “transparent stitch-up”.