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‘Up to 100′ in latest Christmas Island riots

July 21st, 2011 Australia

The Immigration Department says up to 100 people armed with makeshift weapons may have been involved in the latest riot at the Christmas Island Detention Centre overnight.

Between 30 and 40 people were directly involved in the protest, which involved lighting fires at the centre.

The incident was brought to a halt by federal police, but the department said the perimeter fence was not breached.

Detainees set fire to furniture and rubbish bins and destroyed fences and gates, Social Justice Network spokesman Jamal Daoud said.

Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, said earlier he had been informed by an asylum seeker that detainees barricaded themselves inside the detention centre’s Gold compound.

“The mostly Iranian asylum seekers have said they will commit mass self harm or even suicide if the federal police try to break into the compound to force an end to the protest,” he said.

At the centre’s Green compound, detainees had dug shallow graves in the courtyard, Mr Rintoul said.

“Some asylum seekers have already staged mock burials and buried themselves up to their necks in a symbolic protest that detention is killing their bodies and their minds.”

The Department said any person convicted in relation to the incident could have their visa application refused on character grounds.