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Frightening footage emerges of weekend riots at Australia's Christmas Island

Newshub logo Newshub 13/01/2021 Mark Quinlivan
a blurry image of a person: Watch: Advocates have likened Christmas Island to a "warzone". © Route 501 / Facebook Watch: Advocates have likened Christmas Island to a "warzone".


Terrifying footage has emerged of the major riot that broke out at the detention centre on Australia's Christmas Island at the weekend.

Iwi N Aus co-founder Filipa Payne, who campaigns for the rights of expat New Zealanders in Australian detention, shared the footage on Facebook where inmates can be heard coughing caused by smoke from fires lit during the riots. Flames are visible from throughout the facility.

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Payne says these particular events unfolded on Saturday and this video shows the full extent of what she likens to a "warzone".

It was the second spell of violent unrest in the facility last week after detainees took to the roof and set fire to mattresses last Tuesday.

Payne has since sent letters to New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia Dame Annette King and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta demanding action.

"Since the unrest began it has escalated to the point of boiling over," the letter says. "We are seeking your assistance and support with extreme urgency please."

Detainees allege the facility's standard of living is tantamount to torture, with a severe lack of medical care, inadequate access to treatment and almost total isolation from their families. 

"Ever since Christmas Island has reopened, there have been no classes or stimulation for these men," Payne told Newshub on Sunday.

"They've been locked down for 22 hours a day, and only get physical activity for two hours a day outside of their compound," she said.

It's understood that of the about 200 men being held at the detention centre, about half are New Zealanders. Australia's Border Force holds them there due to being '501s', meaning they've failed the country's bad character test.

But one woman Newshub spoke to earlier this week her relative being held on the island isn't even awaiting deportation. She said his visa has yet to be revoked and his case is still before the courts.

"He has been here [Australia] all his life. His mum is a citizen, all younger siblings [are] Australian-born citizens," she said.

Contrary to claims from some detainees and family members, the Australian Border Force said those on the island were unlawful migrants, with convictions for sexual, violent and drug-related offences. 

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