Riot at Christmas Island after inmates denied knives, forks

Rebecca Moore
Source: 1News

A riot broke out at Australia's Christmas Island immigration detention centre, a year on from the last riot, after detainees were denied knives and forks and made to eat off paper bags, an advocate for the inmates says.

Video of the riot on Wednesday night shows fire and smashed glass at the North West Point Immigration Detention Centre, which is an Australian immigration detention facility located on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

A detainee in the footage is heard saying "we are sick of being treated like s***".

Route 501 Advocacy and Support founder Filipa Payne described conditions at the facility as "draconic brutality", telling 1News those inside the facility just want to be "treated like human beings".

"The men on Christmas Island have been denied the usage of forks and knives, they're not allowed to use any plastic ones anymore, and last night they were served their evening meal on paper bags," she said.

"Also the guards in the detention centre breached the rules and regulations and did room searches while the gentlemen weren't in their facility and the guys were supposed to be present while that happens.

"What really happened was the boiling point tipped over," she said.

An Australian Border Force (ABF) spokesperson told 1News the riot involved "a small number" of detainees, who caused some damage to the facility.

"The centre remains secure and the majority of detainees were not involved.

"Standard protocols are being followed to manage the disturbance. The ABF will continue to work with its partners, including the Australian Federal Police and service providers, to restore order.

"Any criminal offences will be referred to the police for investigation."

The spokesperson said no staff or detainees were injured in the riot.

They said detainees held at the centre were unlawful non-citizens, including those who have had their visa cancelled due to posing a risk to the community or being involved in serious crimes such as assault, sexual offences, drugs and other violent offences.

Meanwhile, Payne is currently travelling throughout New Zealand, meeting with people removed from Australia through deportation.

"I think it's really important to come and talk with them face-to-face and tell them that I value them, and that I stand with them, and that I believe we can win in a legal battle against the Australian Government," she said.

Payne's involvement comes after she campaigned for New Zealanders rights in Australia in 2015, which involved going inside the detention centres in Australia.

"After meeting and seeing people and hearing from them what was going on I knew that there was no way I could turn my back on the situation," she said.

"I stand with the people in the detention centres and we're fighting for them on the outside."