Pacific Media Watch

9 November 2015

AUSTRALIA: Christmas Island detainees in 'stand-off' over Iranian refugee's death

Hero image
Iranian Kurdish refugee Fazal Chegeni ... his body found at the base of a cliff. Image: ABC

MELBOURNE (ABC News / Pacific Media Watch): The Australian federal government has confirmed a number of people at the Christmas Island Detention Centre are involved in a "stand-off" with authorities following the death of an Iranian refugee.

One detainee is receiving medical treatment following a riot at the facility.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said it was hoped order would be restored in the coming hours.

He said negotiations were underway with those involved in the stand-off.

However, his department denied earlier that there was a large-scale riot taking place at the centre following the death of Iranian Kurdish refugee Fazal Chegeni, whose body was found at the base of a cliff yesterday.

Chegeni's death is being investigated by Australian Federal Police.

Fires started
A man being held inside the centre said detainees had set fire to parts of the complex.

There are also reports guards have abandoned the centre and fences have been torn down.

Twenty-five-year-old detainee Matej Cuperka told the ABC that ex-convicts who had their Australian visas cancelled after serving time in jail started the riot.

"The death [of the Iranian man] is very, very suspicious," he said.

"They [the inmates who are rioting] believe Serco officers did something to him.

"I clearly heard him in the morning screaming for help, and the next thing I see they [would] be bringing him in a body bag, and after that the whole place went into lockdown.

"About 30 people started a fight with the emergency response team in front of the medical [clinic] where officers left their stations and put the place in lockdown."

'Completely ransacked'
"They are setting fires everywhere," Cuperka added.

"They started last night. They have broken into the canteen, into the property area, they started fires over there and now they starting in the compound.

"There are cars full of officers driving around the complex. They are just having a look through the window, but nobody is helping us.

"I want to get out of here. Get me somewhere safe please."

Another detainee, who stressed that he had not been involved in the riots, said "most of the compounds have actually been broken into, including the medical [compound]".

"The canteen, I can see from where I'm standing now, has been completely ransacked and is burning as I speak to you," he said.

"It's a complete disaster zone."

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons