2011: Detention Centres

Just some of many:

12 March –Christmas Island

At least 150 detainees break out of the detention centre. All Serco guards withdraw from the compound to search for them.

18 March –Christmas Island

As many as 300 detainees were involved in a protest that saw two administration buildings and seven accommodation tents burnt. Asylum seekers armed with bricks and poles charged police and the perimeter fences. Some rioters breached the perimeter wall. Police responded with tear gas and bean bag rounds. The protests started in response to a letter asylum seekers received from Canberra.

20 April – Villawood (Sydney)

At least nine buildings were set alight in a protest at Villawood Detention centre which involved up to 100 immigration detainees. The disturbance grew out of a rooftop protest by a number of asylum seekers.

Sandi Logan, an immigration spokesperson, said:

“From time to time, frankly quite unacceptable, quite appalling non-compliant behaviours have occurred.”

10 June –Christmas Island

About 100 detainees joined in an overnight protest when guards tried to take a detainee to the feared “red block” isolation unit. Detainees, some of whom armed themselves with metal poles and broken concrete, protested at the perimeter of the detention centre and pelted police and guards with projectiles.

This was the worst disturbance at the centre since riots in March, but there is said to have been some kind of disturbance at the facility, every night since the March riots, with at least three separate attacks on guards in the past month.

14 July – Villawood (Sydney)

17 People were caught while attempting a mass break-out from Villawood Detention centre

13-20 July –Darwin

A seven-day rooftop protest by five asylum seekers. 

19-21 July –Christmas Island

There were two nights of rioting at Christmas Island detention centre. More than 10 protesters on the roof of the detention centre set fire to sheets, and tents and rubbish bins were also torched. Serco guards withdrew from the detention centre as asylum seekers broke down fences and opened doors to allow free movement between the compounds inside the detention centre.

The major protest follows a series of smaller roof-top protests, and the lock down of the detention centre over the previous week. Federal police responded with tear gas and bean bag rounds.

September – Darwin

On two occasions over a number of weeks, 20-30 people buried themselves in a hole dug for construction in the compound. There were also daily protests by up to 70 detainees for several months, involving all nationalities in the detention centre– Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans, Burmese and Ahwaj Arab Iranian minority.

Proposals from Serco in response to the protests, to change the food, offer more fruit, bring singers into detention have only inflamed the tempers of the asylum seekers, who demanded an end to their long-term detention.

22 Oct – Scherger detention centre (far north Qld)

Following an assault on a Tamil refugee by a Serco officer, which left him with several broken teeth and a suspected broken nose among other injuries, other asylum seekers responded with a melee that left several broken windows and chairs. They surrounded the injured Tamil to prevent him being removed from the compound

8-10 November –Darwin

On Tuesday 8 November, people who had been detained for up to 22 months went on a rampage and destroyed computers, TVs, washing machines, tables and other fittings. Two days later there was another destructive protest, when Serco guards and Federal Police entered the compound to capture and remove about 10 men to Christmas Island as punishment.