Immigrant riots rage on in Australia

2011-07-21 15:22
Sydney - Australia's troubled Christmas Island detention centre was rocked by a second night of unrest, officials said on Thursday, with police firing tear gas and non-lethal rounds at rioting inmates.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said between 20 and 40 immigration detainees "engaged again in vandalism and violence" on Wednesday night, with mattresses and a building set alight at the remote Indian Ocean centre.

"The federal police again took action and they used, I'm advised, gas and bean bag rounds," Bowen told reporters.

Tear gas, flash and acoustic weapons and "bean bag" or fabric rounds filled with lead shot were fired on about 50 detainees during riots Tuesday night, the second time in as many months Christmas Island has erupted in protest.

Australia has a mandatory detention policy for asylum seekers arriving by boat, most on leaky vessels through a popular people smuggling corridor from Indonesia. Christmas Island is the main facility, and home to 600 inmates.

A record influx of boatpeople - almost 7 000 in 2010 - has stretched facilities to capacity, prompting the government to release women and children into the community and open new centres on Australia's mainland.


The large numbers have resulted in lengthy processing delays, leaving some detainees locked up for 18 months or more and tensions running high.

Canberra strengthened the character test for asylum visas so anyone convicted of crimes, including rioting, in detention could be shipped back home following wild riots on Christmas Island and in Sydney earlier this year.

Bowen warned detainees they faced the "full force of the law" if the violence continued.

"This sort of activity is completely inappropriate, it is way out of line with the expectations of the Australian people," the minister said.

"Undertaking this sort of activity is achieving nothing except potentially their release from detention and transfer into a prison."

At least 30 detainees have already been charged over riots on Christmas Island last month and in March and violent protests at Sydney's Villawood in April in which nine buildings were torched.

The latest unrest came as human rights advocates warned that the mandatory and prolonged detention of asylum seekers was a serious breach of Australia's international human rights obligations.

Read more on:    australia  |  refugees

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.