Inmates have lit fires at Australia’s Christmas Island detention centre in a “major disturbance”, says government officials. The unrest was sparked by the death of a detainee who had escaped the camp. The situation was “tense” for a while, the department said, but was now calm.
Negotiations were continuing with those detainees protesting to resolve the situation “peacefully and as soon as possible”, the department said in a statement. The perimeter remains secure and patrols are continuing, it said. Christmas Island is a remote outpost located 2,650km (1,650 miles) north-west of Perth and 380km south of Java in Indonesia.
It is part of Australia’s network of offshore processing centres for irregular migrants who arrive by boat, and also houses New Zealanders facing deportation from Australia. The Department of Immigration said the unrest started when a group of Iranian inmates staged a protest about the death of an Iranian Kurd, Fazel Chegeni. Mr Chegeni had escaped from the facility on Saturday. His body was found at the bottom of a cliff on Sunday.