Riot police have enforced “full and effective order” at a detention center used to hold migrants and asylum-seekers on Australia’s Christmas Island, immigration authorities announced Tuesday morning, following more than a day of unrest and negotiations with detainees, outraged at the death of an Iranian Kurdish refugee.
The upheaval began after detainee Fazel Chegeni was found dead Sunday in what some inmates have considered to be “suspicious” circumstances.
Reports say that inmates lit fires, tore down fences and created barricades, while security guards abandoned the compound. The events lead to a “stand-off” with riot police.
On Tuesday, the immigration department said that at least five detainees involved in the stand-off had non-life threatening injuries.
According to Reuters, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said that the operation to regain control of the center faced resistance by “violent criminal detainees” rather than asylum-seekers.
"It is a hardened criminal population that occupies the immigration detention center on Christmas Island," he said, adding that this included members of outlawed motorcycle gangs.
"Obviously the priority for today has been to restore calm to the center. That has taken place," he added.
He also said that one detainee required evacuation from the island for medical treatment and that no officers were injured.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection announced that while the extent of damage to the detention center had not been assessed, some areas seemed to have been "severely damaged."
Earlier on Monday, politicians, public figures and international bodies, including the U.N., criticized Australia’s detention centers and policies.
"There is a crisis inside Australia's immigration detention centers and it is time for the government to start being upfront with the Australian people about what is going on and to ensure a proper independent investigation and review of the conditions and of the management of the facilities," said Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young to the press on Monday morning.
Immigration and asylum-seekers are tense political topics in Australia. Various governments have set hard-line policies against migrants and refugees seeking to reach Australia, sending them to Christmas Island, Manus Island and Nauru in the South Pacific.
However, human rights groups and even the U.N. have long criticized the conditions on the offshore detention facilities, saying that the conditions are often brutal and are most likely a violation of international law.