Christmas Island turmoil ends with use of tear gas

Police restore order by using tear gas at Australian refugee detention centre in Christmas Island

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

The Christmas Island Detention center in the Indian Ocean

Police at Australia's Christmas Island, used tear gas in order to disperse the protestors at a refugee detention centre, following the escape and death of one refugee, Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said.

Dutton confirmed that five refugees have been injured and police officers are using rubber bullets. The injuries came "as a result of their interaction with the police and their refusal to comply with the directions provided by the Australian Federal Police," Dutton said.

Dutton put the blame for the situation on "a hardened criminal population that occupies the immigration detention centre."

According to the immigration department, the detention centre is under "full and effective control," after police arrived at the island on Tuesday and used "some force" on "a core group of detainees who had built barricades and actively resisted attempts to secure the compound, they also threatened to use weapons and improvised weapons."

After the escaped refugee, Fazel Chegeni was found dead, a group of inmates wielding weapons set fires inside the centre, damaging parts of it and isolated themselves.

Christmas Island criticised by many

The detention centre on the island opened in 2006 and houses people who are to be deported after committing crimes in Australia.

The centre, as well as Australia’s policy towards refugees has been widely criticised by countries like US, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany and Switzerland.

At a United Nations forum, many countries stated that Australia should not turn back refugee boats that are trying to reach the country and move the refugees to detention centres.

"We remain concerned about Australia's protection of the rights of migrants, especially of women and children at offshore facilities," spokesperson for the Turkish government said.

However, Australia claims that many boat accidents have been prevented by its policies.

The refugees sent to detention centres are also transferred to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the South Pacific.

TRTWorld and agencies