The detention centre on Christmnas Island is really a concentration camp

The detention centre on Christmnas Island is really a concentration camp


 Press release earlier today by Refugee Action Coalition in Australia:


Around 50 people have spent the night on the oval (green zone) of Christmas Island detention centre, as more police and Serco guards gather on the perimeter of the centre.

As of 2.30am Christmas Island time, no attempt had been made by police or guards to re-enter the detention centre. Late yesterday, television had been cut off to the centre. Some food had been left at the gate of the centre and detainees told to collect it. Armed police and others in full riot gear can be seen outside the detention fences. Detainees report that drones have been circulating over the centre and the Federal police have been issuing instructions through a megaphone to ‘dump any weapons and return to your rooms.’

Most detainees have remained in the accommodation blocks in any case. “The government talks about ‘restoring order’ in the centre, but restoring order to the riot police and Serco’s Emergency Response Team will only mean a return of the brutal rule of force inside the detention centre, that led to the explosion on Christmas Island.

“The ‘behavioural management’ regime inside Christmas Island is reminiscent of the behaviour familiar in Guantanamo Bay. It relies on solitary confinement, 24 hour surveillance, denial of access to a phone or the internet and systemic force, reprisals, and beatings by the Serco guards of anyone who they consider steps out of line.

“There is a widespread belief that Serco guards were involved in the death of Fazal Chegeni because of their experience of the guards in the detention centre,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“One of the first measures detainees took inside the detention centre when the guards withdrew late Sunday night was to free the detainees from the hated high security Red Compound.

“Christmas Island is being used as the punishment centre of the government’s detention regime. People are arbitrarily moved there as a punitive measure. It is much worse than jail. There is no reason for the so-called ‘criminal deportees’ to be in immigration detention. They have done their time, according the criminal justice system.

“There is no reason for the asylum seekers to be there. They have committed no crime. Fazal, whose death ignited the tensions inside the detention centre, should never have been in detention. He should never have been on Christmas Island.

One Facebook message from inside the detention centre, referring to the Fazal’s death reads, “On Friday night our brother managed to get over the fence and spend his last days in the living hell, a free man….Whatever happened to our brother is [the doing] of immigration and Australian Border Force.”

“The punitive regime on Christmas Island must end. Like Nauru and Manus, Christmas Island should be closed,” said Rintoul.


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by Susanne Kemp

It appears that armed guards have re-entered the detention centre/concentration camp, wielding batons and firing rubber bullets.

One of the New Zealand detainees, Ricardo Young, told Radio New Zealand this morning that Serco aren’t interested in any sort of negotiations:

“There’s no negotiation, they don’t want to negotiate nothing you know? We wanted to get one of the boys to negotiate with them to see if we could resolve this matter and they don’t want a piece of it. They’ve pretty much said that they want war, so at the end of the day they’re declaring it. Serco’s declaring it.

“It leaves the people in the detention centre with no choice but to just go on with what they have to do because at the end of the day what’s going to happen? They’re going to bash them any way. So if they surrender anyway they’re still going to get bashed. They don’t want to sort anything out .”

In New Zealand, Labour have been taking advantage of the situation to blast Key for being “weak and cowardly” and presenting themselves as the champions of the human rights of people being held on Christmas Island; well at least the New Zealand detainees.  This is pretty rich considering the last Labour government’s detention of Ahmed Zaoui, including the long stretch he spent in solitary confinement, and their deportation of a young Sri Lankan rape victim about whom members of that government persistently lied.  That deportation was so outrageous it was even criticised by the state’s own Children’s Commissioner and by Save the Children New Zealand.

Labour here, as in Australia, also endorses, in fact calls for and implements, locking up refugees who haven’t gone through the ‘proper’ procedures.

It’s certainly the case that the events on Christmas Island have shown what a cowardly, spineless little weasel John Key is.  But there is also a degree of sanctimoniousness in New Zealand about the policies of the Australian government.  The New Zealand establishment can adopt a superior moral tone because the huge landmass that is Australia stands between New Zealand and thousands of people crossing the sea to seek refuge.  If the Australian landmass didn’t exist and NZ was a lot closer to Asia, the NZ ruling elite would be doing exactly what their counterparts across the Tasman are.

What we need is a movement that puts the rights of the oppressed and exploited first.  A movement that demands, for instance, open borders – and it makes sense to build that movement on a trans-Tasman basis.

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