Celebrity Mania and the Manus Island Beatings

2016 has finally gone the way of the Dodo. While the online don’t assume my gender when I’m offended, and typing a loudly brigade proudly touted 2016 as the worst year this side of the crucifixion of Christ, it probably wasn’t. Not unless you base your biases on the horrible horrendousness of celebrities dying of old age and decades-old drug habits. (Gee golly gosh who would have guessed?). If this truly was a terrible year, there are bigger reasons at play than dead celebrities.  Shocking as it sounds to some, people die every day. Often murdered, in fact, through the horrors of war, poverty and unsafe dental practices upon the gritty side-streets of Delhi. I hope to never hear the sentence Mariah Carey’s faulty earpiece tragedy in correlation to hashtag 2016 curse strikes, ever again. They are just celebrities. No better, and no worse than the rest of us. That being said, I give extreme props to Carrie Fisher for going out in style and letting us all know she bedded Han Solo just before dropping the mike and exiting stage left.

Now if you crazy kids truly want a year to loathe, try 1665 London, where nearly everybody and their pets caught the bubonic plague and freakin’ died.

Whether you were down with 2016 or simply tolerated it, at least it’s done now. We can all go on to breaking our New Year’s healthy eating resolution by March, because the Gruen effect is real and it will consume your soul and redirect your free will to the pie aisle. Unless you’re one of two Iranian asylum seekers relegated to a yogo-only diet who can’t chew due to overly zealous, possibly quite corrupt party pooper PNG police officers on Manu Island beating them to a pulp. They get no pie. Continued beatings and deaths in custody isn’t good PR for Australia and we should all feel a little bit embarrassed. I assume these two gents, thus far known as Mehdi and Mohammad, are feeling resentment towards Australia offshore detention policies and their 2016 in general right about now.

For the uninitiated on outsourcing cruelty in the interest of plausible deniability, Manus Island Detention Centre is one of two offshore Australian immigration detention facilities located in the Manus Provence of Papau New Guinea, the other being the Nauru detention centre. In 2016, the detention centre was declared unconstitutional by PNG’s highest court. What led up to this? Deaths. Riots. A clear lack of compassion.

Now, in my opinion, I feel riots are counter-productive. It seems every time we see footage of riots its innocent small business owners having their property smashed, set alight or cars being turned over for no conceivable cause other than more anarchy. Often these events are set off by one person, usually by an act with considerable racist overtones. The Kalgoorlie riots shoot to mind. Shall everybody in sight be subject to mob style anger, including police officers? Negatory, uncouth scoundrels. The 2014 riots in the centre were a little different in context, however. More an issue of collective human rights abuse than the actions of one vigilante bonehead sparking off a media shitstorm.

During this ruckus, two detention centre workers beat 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati to death. The first, Joshua Kaluvia repeatedly hit Mr. Barati over the head with a plank of wood with a nail at the end. The second one, Louie Efi then hit Mr. Barati over the head with a rock. They were both sentenced this year. Many other acts of violence during the riot went unpunished. This has forced authorities to allow detainees to come and go during daylight hours and have access to mobile phones. From another standpoint, this also made many refugees walking targets by both disgruntled citizens, as well as overly enthusiastic with their baton’s PNG police. Hence we have our Mehdi’s and Mohammad’s with no pie.

There’s an assumption with some that violent, racist behavior is somehow acceptable due to the current world climate. I’m going to paraphrase an anecdote spoken by an old friend, then posted online some years ago, who shall remain nameless.  “Well, if somebody came to your house, ate all your food, tried banging your wife and left crumbs and dirty socks everywhere, you would want them to leave too. That’s how I feel about many Muslims and refugees. I’m not racist, but.” I am convinced he believes this.

Patriotism is nice. I like patriotism. But whilst expressing the flowing milk of intolerance through the perky pink teats of Anglo anger via social media rants may give some the rush they need, it’s shortsighted. It certainly isn’t helping. When conflicted, I always try and put myself in somebody else’s shoes and think with an honest heart. If it all went to hell here, and I mean really went to hell, wouldn’t I want some humane assistance? If somebody put me in a cage and threw away the key I would quite honestly be mildly miffed. We are extremely lucky to be in this country and the fact of the matter is, apart from the Indigenous, all our roots lie elsewhere. So why are so many so unwilling to show compassion? Humans are easily led, so let’s lead them in the direction of positivity. Our energy could be much better spent spreading messages of love and acceptance around the web, if that’s your preferred outlet. Make enough people think they aren’t welcome in this country, and the probability of them being radicalized increases tenfold. Helpful hint: You can usually spot a racist by their inability to type a coherent and sensible sentence without full caps. Spellcheck a racist today!

I can acknowledge that we don’t want to hear doom and gloom ALL the time. However, please give the same attention to this as you do to Mariah’s faulty microphone piece. I also DO feel that things are getting slowly better. Whilst smaller in numbers, there is an outspoken collective who are tired of being fed celebrity-inspired drivel to draw our attention away from the injustices of this world. In that respect, social media can inspire and change. The best news to come out of these events is the fact that finally, Manus Island Detention Centre has been confirmed as being on the way out. Shut down for good. Does that change anything? Will these people simply be sent elsewhere and treated in much the same way? I sincerely hope not.



About Aaron Jakovich

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Having recently swiped left on the materialistic Judas that is traditional conformity, Aaron now spends his days and nights in observance of the ever evolving and intertwining habits of society, culture and the general state of “us,” all the while referring to himself in third person for no clear reason.