Christmas Island detainees fear repercussions from guards

The riot started on Sunday
The riot started on Sunday

The first pictures out of Christmas Island have emerged, showing guards in riot gear re-entering the detention centre and taking back control.

The reinforcements from the Australian Federal Police arrived on Christmas Island in the dark of night, flown in alongside extra prison officers to try to bring the riot under control.

"The government's not going to cower in the face of the activities of some of these criminals," says Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

The road to the detention centre was blocked as the riot squad was sent in. There was little resistance and the Kiwi detainees 3 News spoke to were co-operating.

"[I'm] just going up to segregation and just going to wait there until they sort out the compounds and make it safe," says detainee Ricky Downes.

The riot started after the body of Fazel Chegeni, an Iranian-Kurdish asylum seeker, was found following his escape. Other asylum seekers demanded answers but were told nothing by the guards.

For more than 50 New Zealanders inside the centre, the worry now is revenge from the guards and repercussions from the authorities.

Today Mr Dutton said only the worst hardened criminals have been sent to the island. 

"Bikies, people who have been convicted of manslaughter, of serious grievous bodily harm charges, sexual assault against children."

But Mr Downes says that's not the case.

"None of us did anything wrong to get here in the first place, I had a clean record in jail and in immigration so there's no reason for us to be on Christmas Island in the first place - so it's lies, it's all lies."

Since Australia began opening detention centres 15 years ago there have been riots.

"There's really no surprise that you get violence in detention centres in Australia," says Greg Barnes, of the Australian Lawyers Alliance. "Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and detainees is among the worst in the world."

One detainee had to be flown to Perth for medical treatment, though Border Control wouldn't confirm if he was injured during the riots.

3 News