In yet another disturbing incident within Australian detention centres, tear gas and possibly even rubber bullets have been used by the Australian Federal Police on Christmas Island against protesting detainees. With over 6000 people being held in detention and an increasing cycle of protests, escapes, hunger strikes, self-harm and repression within centres it is clear that the ALP has delivered a detention regime every bit as soul destroying as Howard.
The protesting detainees on Christmas Island are largely Iraqi and Iranian men frustrated at the length of their detention. According to Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition "The idea that tear gas and that kind of force could be used against detainees inside the detention centre is an absolute disgrace." A series of solidarity protests are occuring around Australia in the next month to call for end once and for all to the evil of mandatory detention.
Related: Easter Convergence on Curtin Detention Centre -- April 2nd Rally at Broadmeadows Detention Centre -- Sydney Palm Sunday Refugee rally
Background: Asylum seekers break out of Christmas Island detention centre | Crack down begins on Christmas Island
The Federal Immigration Minister in a calm bureaucratic tone was quoted on the ABC justifying the use of force by citing the damage of property:
"Damage was done to facilities including fencing, some accommodation and door locks," Mr Bowen said.
"At 3.37am this morning the Australian Federal Police determined that it was necessary to use tear gas to quell this protest."
Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, was also quoted on the ABC as stating that is was the action of SERCO security officers entering the compound at about 10:00pm trying to round up the ring leaders of last weeks breakout that started the protest. When they took 20 people off to the maxium security "Red Compound" other detainees broke into the compound in an act of angry solidarity.
"It was only when they captured some of those people and put them in handcuffs that provoked the response inside the detention centre. It was completely calm, completely peaceful before that," he said.
Mr Rintoul says the officers took the people to the high security management unit known as the red compound, staffed by officers from Serco, the facility management company.
"One-hundred-and-fifty to 200 people surrounded the red compound, actually got into the red compound and the tear gas was used when the Serco guards that were in there couldn't secure their little office," he said.
"We're told it might even be a rubber bullet that broke the leg of that protester.
"The idea that tear gas and that kind of force could be used against detainees inside the detention centre is an absolute disgrace."