Mar 18 2011
250 – 300 MUSLIM asylum-seeking detainees (mostly from Iraq, Iran, Indonesia and Sri Lanka), enraged over delays in application processing, have gone on a rampage, setting fires to buildings and hurling rocks at police, forcing police to use tear gas to control the wild animals.
The Australian / Adelaide Now /AU NEWS– (H/T to all who sent this in) FEDERAL police were forced to use teargas to rescue security guards under attack from rioting MUSLIM detainees on Christmas Island early yesterday, after a chaotic weekend of mass escapes from the troubled detention centre and stand-offs between asylum-seekers and authorities. BUILDINGS and tents at the Christmas Island detention centre have been destroyed in fires deliberately lit by asylum seekers overnight.
About 300 detainees rioted, smashing gates and fences, after two mass breakouts in which many asylum-seekers walked to the airport demanding freedom. Guards working for government contractor Serco had been trying to
The guards were with a small group of detainees in the high-security red block reserved for troublemakers when detainees began throwing things at them. The AFP arrived shortly after 3.30am and used teargas to quell the protest, according to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.
One detainee is in hospital with a broken leg. An AFP spokesperson last night denied a claim that the man had been struck with a rubber bullet, saying the AFP did not use them. (Rubber bullets? They should have blown them all away)
At 6am, four Serco guards accompanied two detainees deemed to be central to the rioting – an Iraqi and an Iranian – to Villawood on a charter plane.
Mr Bowen said it appeared the escapees were back behind the wire of the main centre, which holds about 1900 men. The Gillard government has attempted to ease tension by shifting large numbers of detainees to mainland centres and has succeeded in reducing the number of detainees on the island from about 3050 in December to about 2500.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd told the Seven Network the protests were “completely unacceptable” and would not influence any visa decision. “How can you expect our officials to process applications for asylum when that sort of thing is happening?” he said.
More than 6,500 refugees — mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka — arrived in Australia last year on boats from Indonesia, crowding centres to capacity and inflaming debate on Canberra’s tough mandatory detention policy.
Christmas Island, a tiny speck in the Indian Ocean some 2,650 kilometres (1,650 miles) northwest of Perth, is the country’s main immigration detention facility and where all asylum seekers arriving by boat are taken.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said, “It’s time that the government finally understood that they have a big problem, and it’s a problem entirely of their own making.” He told Fairfax Radio the fire and protests were the direct result of Labor’s soft border protection policies.
Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott said the situation was tragic.”The government has totally lost control of our detention system, just as it’s totally lost control of our borders,” he said. “The only way to stop the unrest on Christmas Island is to stop the boats.”