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July 20, 2011

TEAR GAS USED AGAINST PROTEST ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

A major protest, involving a large number of asylum seekers has broken out at the main Christmas Island detention centre overnight, starting around 10pm (Tuesday 19 July) Christmas Island time.

From reports from inside the detention centre, doors between the compounds have been broken open allowing detainees to move freely between the various compounds. A number of small fires have been set. Serco officers have withdrawn from the compounds.

Around midnight Christmas Island time, a small number of police fired tear gas inside the compounds.

Some asylum seekers have again taken to the roof to protest.

The major protest follows a series of smaller roof-top protests, and the lock down of the detention centre over the past week or so.

“Tensions have been high since the March protests. People feel that nothing’s changed and they have no alternative but to protest,” said Ian Rintoul, a spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Self-harm incidents are daily events as despairing asylum seekers reach the end of their tether. People are still waiting for months for decisions despite Immigration department promises after the March protests, that processing would be sped up and all those waiting for security clearances would be finalised by the end of April.

“Christmas Island has become a symbol of the government’s broken system of detention. It has become a hell-hole every bit as bad as Woomera, Port Hedland and Baxter under the Howard government. In March, refugee advocates proposed human rights observers be placed on Christmas Island, but the government ignored that suggestion.

“It is way beyond time for all asylum seekers to be brought to the mainland. The government should put an end to off-shore processing and close Christmas Island should be closed,” said Rintoul.

Meanwhile the roof top protest at Darwin detention centre continued.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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