Christmas Island Riot: Now on Tour at a Detention Centre Near You!

By DeusExMacintosh

SYDNEY’S Villawood Detention Centre last night erupted into violence with rioting detainees setting fire to the facility and forcing guards to retreat.

More than 30 firefighters were battling to control blazes in up to three of the centre’s buildings after detainees gathered furniture which they lit and then hurled. The rioting followed a day-long protest by up to 11 detainees, some of whom refused to come down from the roof from where they threw tiles.

Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said guards “withdrew” from the compound that was on fire. “At least three buildings in stage three are on fire and one major fire has been set in the grounds of the stage three compound,” he said.

Another refugee advocate, Jamal Daoud, told The Australian that detainees inside one of the centre’s compounds had attacked guards by throwing objects at them before lighting the fire.

“The detainees are rioting inside the Villawood detention centre, the detainees attacked SERCO security with fire extinguishers and threw objects on them,” he said. “The guards then ran away.”

A spokesman for the NSW Fire Brigade said it was not safe for the officers to enter the centre, forcing them to attempt to extinguish the flames from a cherry picker…

Mr Daoud, who was outside the centre last night, said the flames were very high.

He said detainees in the centre had told him that the fire began in the computer room of a compound known as stage three, which houses between 150 and 200 asylum-seekers.

Mr Daoud said the detainees who started the fire were frustrated by the lack of care the Department of Immigration and Citizenship showed to two men who were protesting on the roof of the centre for much of yesterday. In the evening, the rooftop protest swelled to up to 15 detainees and Mr Daoud said that by around 11.30pm the situation had escalated dramatically.

“There is total chaos inside the detention, with detainees from the rooftop throwing roof tiles on the ground,” he said…

Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said three areas of the compound on fire had been destroyed, including a billiards room and computer room. He said power had been cut off to the compound on fire and many detainees were upset and worried. “People in the compound are very distressed because they can’t get out,” he said.

Australia’s detention centres have recently been plagued by violent riots, suicides and self-harm attempts.

Last month, a violent riot erupted at Christmas Island’s high security detention centre following a mass breakout. In the past eight months, six people have died in detention.

Conditions at Villawood have been the focus of a wide-ranging investigation into Australian detention centres by the government’s workplace safety regulator, Comcare. Last week, the commonwealth watchdog issued the Immigration Department with a lengthy improvement notice about dangers for workers at Villawood as part of a crackdown on the seven immigration detention centres.

A senior Comcare investigator found that alleged ringleaders of the Christmas Island riot transferred to Villawood’s high-security area were placed under the control of a worker who had not been trained for the job.

The Australian


  1. Richard Pinsent
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    These vandals should be immediately returned to the country they came from. We do not need these sorts of people in Australia and they, by their behavior, have lost any right to be treated as refugees.

  2. kvd
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Quite right Richard. “The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century, perhaps best known for their sack of Rome in 455” – so I would suggest somewhere near Berlin.

    DEM, I also hear that the ladders used to access the roof are being replaced with permanent stairs or maybe an escalator, due to H & S concerns.

  3. kvd
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    LE my dim understanding is that they weren’t all that destructive; just probably had a good PR agency. Just like the Picts who obviously gave us picketing.

  4. Henry2
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Gday all,

    I sort of agree with Richard.

    If this same sort of thing were to occur in a prison, the inmates responsible would be charged and their sentences and/or their non parole periods would be extended. I do know that these folk are NOT prisoners, but to release them to the general community, more quickly, now, sets an example that all one has to do to get out of the facility is to set fire to it.

    So yes, Richard, for the sake of all the genuine inmates of these camps, the arsonists, assaulters, rioters, etc. must be charged with their crimes and any convictions must be assessed within any refugee application. It’s important that this is also seen to be done to disencourage further unrest.



  5. thefrollickingmole
    Posted April 21, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Guess how many rioters were convicted during the Howard era fires and riots?

    Go on.

    This will be the same, by acting as a group you efectively earn immunity from prosecution in Australia as individual charges WON’T be laid…

    It takes a conviction of more than 2 years duration to affect a refugee visa application. (Or at least it used to). I know of only one detainee who earned a sentence this long in my time at Port Hedland.

    Please note this is what happens when those who have been found NOT to be refugees are allowed to stay “in the stream” with those who are still going through the process. It was a problem before, and remains a problem now.

  6. Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    On Vandals, the Visigoths were mostly “paid off” in their 410 three-day sack . The Vandals were regarded as having done a worse/more thorough job in their 14-day sacking of 455 and then they went and conquered North Africa, the last remaining decent tax base of the Western Empire, after which it was doomed.

  7. Posted April 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]: Does that mean there was a pre-Christian “Emo” tribe somewhere in Europe who were too listless to sack anything?

    [email protected]: I don’t want to seem unsympathetic, but if they are so upset about their conditions, I’d suggest a temporary transfer… to Long Bay.

    Moley, I’ll take a punt on none. Welcome to Australia, land of the convict. Guess on that historical basis it’s a bit difficult to turn them down for minor affray/criminal damage.

  8. Posted April 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    All the way through Bring Laws & Gods, I had to refrain from using the word ‘vandal’ and employ the far more anodyne ‘criminal damage’. It was up there with the careful eschewing of phrases from Shakespeare, although I was able to give my Jewish characters lines from the Old Testament and some other period Jewish writing that’s also very poetic.

  9. Gypsy Tom
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    We the taxpayers have to pay for the damages the illegal boat refugees DID at Villawood. There is no excuse for what they did so they should be deported ASAP. The Government is too soft on boat people and this is at our expense.

  10. Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink



    “the illegal boat refugees”

    do you mean

    “the refugees who come by illegal boat”?


    “the illegal refugees who come by boat”?

  11. Movius
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    They are seeking refuge from the tyranny of illegal boats.

    Gypsy Tom has inadvertently exposed the government’s urban whale sanctuary.

  12. Davo
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    “criminal damage”. Sounds simple to me. Extradition.

  13. Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Ken Parish over at Club Troppo has a very interesting take on this issue. Well worth a read:

  14. Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] As the descendant of convicts, I would point out that your and my ancestors were compelled to come here pursuant to legal direction. So their entry was law-abiding even if their original reasons were not 🙂

    (And looking at it from the point of view of the indigenous inhabitants does not work in favour of further boat arrivals!)

  15. Ernie
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Why can’t all the boat people be sent to Ian Rintoul’s home – I’m sure he would welcome them all.

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