Fires at Australian immigration centre
Blazes broke out at an Australian immigration detention centre on Wednesday, hours before the high court was due to rule on whether a proposed asylum-seeker swap with Malaysia can go ahead.world Updated: Sep 01, 2011 08:02 IST
Blazes broke out at an Australian immigration detention centre on Wednesday, hours before the high court was due to rule on whether a proposed asylum-seeker swap with Malaysia can go ahead.
The immigration department said tactical police and the fire brigade were dealing with a "disturbance" at Darwin's Northern Detention Centre, which houses some 466 single men.
"There was an initial fire that has been extinguished ... and a secondary fire has also now broken out," a department spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said no further details were available but state broadcaster ABC said the fires were lit in protest after some Indonesian detainees became angry at being unable to celebrate the Muslim festival Eid.
Reports also said that fire personnel attending the scene were pelted with rocks.
The Darwin compound, like several other immigration detention facilities holding asylum-seekers, has been hit with unrest previously, including a roof-top protest and hunger strike in July.
The latest disturbance comes as the full bench of the high court is set to rule on Canberra's plan to ship boatpeople to Malaysia -- an arrangement which has been frozen for a fortnight due to the legal challenge.
Under a controversial deal, Australia wants to send up to 800 asylum-seekers who arrive on its shores by boat to Malaysia in exchange for resettling some 4,000 recognised refugees from the Asian nation.
Lawyers for the asylum-seekers have questioned whether the government has the right to send potential refugees to Malaysia, which is not a signatory to the United Nations convention on refugees.
The government contends it has legally declared Malaysia a suitable place.