In December of 2016 The New York Times published Roger Cohen’s ‘Broken Men in
Paradise,’ an ethnographic exposé of Australia’s offshore immigration detention system. “The
world’s refugee crisis,” writes Cohen, “with its 65 million people on the move, more than at any
time since 1945, knows no more sustained, sinister or surreal exercise in cruelty than the South
Pacific quasi-prisons Australia has established for its trickle of the migrant flood.” Cohen’s Op-Ed 1
centers on interviews with detained refugees in the Manus Regional Processing Center, a facility on
a remote tropical island in Northern Papua New Guinea and the holding ground for roughly 900
adult men seeking resettlement in Australia. Since its publication, the article’s comments section
has exploded with vitriol; the scathing responses are seemingly endless, and read like careful
composites of the most prevalent anti-immigration buzzwords: illegals, queue jumpers, economic
migrants, leeches, welfare tourists and Jihadists. But Cohen, too, has a lexicon for the men of
Manus Island. He calls them banished, political pawns, invisible and the walking dead. He analyzes
Australia’s discursive obsession with the term boat people and the Orwellian contortions inherent in
the phrase Offshore Processing Center. Most notably, Cohen calls his interviewees by their names.
Cohen, Roger. Broken Men In Paradise.
He introduces Benham Satah, a Kurdish refugee who has not been referred to by his given name for