Australia imprisons alleged detention camp rioters

Several men held responsible for riots which caused millions of dollars worth of damages to remote detention centre, are flown to mainland prison

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Australian police officers detain a man during raids in western Sydney, Australia, October 7, 2015

Seven men on Thursday held accountable for the riots which took place at Australia’s Christmas Island detention center were flown overnight to a maximum security prison in the country’s west coast city of Perth.

Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has noted that the cost of damages caused by the riots stands at about 10 million Australian dollars ($7M).

Currently there are 5 New Zealanders, a Tonfan and an Afghan sentenced to prison in Australia’s mainland however, more detainees involved in the unrest will join them  confirmed Dutton.

Unrest broke out between detainees and officials at the remote detention centre after the death of detainee Iranian Kurd, Fazel Chegeni.

Chegeni is reported to have fled from the detention centre on Saturday and his body was found at the bottom of a cliff the next day. 

Police on Tuesday used tear gas to stop the riots which continued for over a day. Guards were forced to leave the facility in order secure their own safety from angry rioters.  

There have been no reports of serious injuries.

Christmas Island is part of Australia’s group of offshore processing centres for refugees who arrive to the country illegally by boat. New Zealanders facing deportation from Australia are also sent to the island.

New Zealand's International Affairs Minister Peter Dunne has criticised the Australian government over its treatment of detainees.

In an opinion piece for Fairfax Media, Dunne wrote that people who have been placed in detention after having their visas revoked under section 501 of Australia's Migration Act were now "worse off than when they were in prison."

"The modern concentration camp approach Australia has taken is simply wrong. It was wrong when the British tried it in Northern Ireland in the 1970s; it is wrong in Guantanamo Bay, or in Israel today. Australia is no different," he added. 

The Refugee Action Coalition on Thursday said in a statement that 20 detainees on Christmas Island were left without food or water for over 24 hours during the riots. 

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection however, denied the statement and said that all asylum seekers "have been provided with food, water and shelter throughout the unrest at the centre.

TRTWorld and agencies