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July 21, 2011

SECOND NIGHT OF PROTESTS ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

UPDATE–SECOND NIGHT OF TEAR GAS

Around 10pm Christmas Island time, Federal police began the indiscriminate use of tear gas inside the Christmas Island detention centre.

Asylum seekers not involved with the protest have been affected by the tear gas.

Tear gas was also fired at the roof top protesters, but the roof top protest is continuing.

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Despite the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesting asylum seekers on Tuesday night, a second night of protest has begun in the Christmas Island detention centre.

Serco guards have again withdrawn from the detention centre as asylum seekers have broken down fences and opened doors to allow free movement between the compounds inside the detention centre.

The protest began around 9.00pm Christmas Island time. More than 10 protesters on the roof of the detention centre have set fire to sheets while small fires have been set in the yards of the compounds.

Asylum seekers report that around six or seven protesters were injured by the bean bag rounds in the protests on Tuesday night.

Contrary to statements from the immigration spokesperson the protesters are not failed asylum seekers awaiting removal. Many of them are relatively recent arrivals awaiting dates for appeal hearings or for decisions from appeal hearings following initial rejections.

“The Immigration department has tried to deflect attention from its responsibility for the toxic environment on Christmas Island. The department is trying to hide the fact that the protests are a direct consequence of long delays and political interference in the in the off-shore processing system,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“There is a mental health emergency on Christmas Island, with the visitors centre turned over to accommodate the victims of self harm incidents. An asylum seeker attempted to hang himself in the outdoor area of the detention centre on Wednesday afternoon.

“Similarly, in Darwin detention centre an attempted suicide on Wednesdy was was only prevented when guards managed to cut the man down.

“Tear gas and bean bag bullets have only inflamed the situation. Until the government addresses the underlying problems the tragedies and the protests will continue.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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