Against Erasure: Launch of the Digital Reconstruction of the Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre

From 2001 to 2008, and again from 2013 to 2017, hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers
were effectively imprisoned under Australian law, in an offshore processing centre at
Lombrum Naval Base, on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG).

In 2016, the PNG Supreme Court ordered it to be closed, as its existence breached the PNG
constitution. The detention camp was dismantled in 2017. Today, it is overgrown with forest
and jungle. Yet several men died there, due to homicide, self-harm, suicide or untreated medical concerns. Many hundreds of others experienced pain and torture during their detainment. When Kurdish writer and former detainee Behrouz Boochani visited there in 2018 with former migration worker Nicole Judge and activist Ian Rintoul, it was as if it had never existed. At that time, Boochani recounted Nicole’s words: “They have destroyed the physical Manus prison, but those who have been sacrificed by this system are still living. As long as we are alive the history of this prison continues.”

Working with an interdisciplinary, international research team, led by Claire Loughnan
(Criminology), Una McIlvenna (History), and the University of Melbourne Arts eLearning/eTeaching team, the project Against Erasure has developed a 3D digital representation of the now dismantled site, drawing on archival materials, interviews, images from Google Earth and images from the film Chauka Please Tell Us The Time, and other recordings. This is the first known 3D model of the detention centre, making a significant contribution to collective knowledge around the facility and the island on which it was based. Importantly, it will function as a historical reminder of, and testament to, the lives and suffering of those who were imprisoned there as an effect of Australian laws and policies.


Behrouz Boochani

Kurdish journalist, writer and scholar formerly detained on Manus Island, Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne; Senior Adjunct Research Fellow, University of Canterbury; Associate Professor, University of NSW.

Arash Kamali Sarvestani

Iranian filmmaker based in The Netherlands and co-producer, with Boochani, of 'Chauka Please Tell Us The Time'.

Shamidan Kanapathi

Human rights activist, published writer and translator, formerly detained in Manus Island and Port Moresby. He is currently living in Finland after being resettled there.

Ben Doherty

Walkley Award winning international affairs correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, who has spent a decade reporting across the Asia-Pacific.

This webinar will be on zoom. Please register here.

Date: Thursday 25 November 2021
Time: 6pm – 7.30pm (AEST); 7am – 8.30am (GMT); 8am – 9.30am (CET), 8pm - 9.30pm (NZDT)
Dr Claire Loughnan or
Dr Una McIlvenna at

More Information

Dr Claire Loughnan, Dr Una McIlvenna,