Five detainees at the Christmas Island detention centre were injured after clashing with riot police who entered the facility in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers had been called in to assist Serco staff and guards in stopping the riot, which had broken out over the death of Iranian refugee Fazel Chegeni, after additional damage was caused to the centre overnight, including attempts to light fires.

Force was used against a group of detainees who had allegedly built barricades and resisted attempts by staff and guards to secure the compounds, including threatening to use improvised weapons.

“This morning’s operation to regain control of the centre and ensure the welfare of those not participating in criminal damage activities was achieved largely through negotiation and co-operation with detainees,” the Department said on Tuesday afternoon. No officers were injured during the disturbance.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has blamed “a core group of criminals” for the riot at the centre.

"We have been very clear about the fact that the Government's not going to cower in the face of the activities of some of these criminals," he said.

"People who have caused damage to Australian Government property will be dealt with accordingly."

Detainees who were staying out of melee were moved to another part of the facility overnight.

The riots started on Sunday night after news broke of the death of Chegeni, who had escaped from the detention centre on Saturday, and was found by search and rescue teams a day later. While the cause of his death is still unknown, refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said Chegeni was suffering from the effects of long-term arbitrary detention and had told other detainees that he “just wanted to go outside.”

“His mental health problems were well known. Detention could only exacerbate those problems,” said Rintoul.

According to the Australian Meidan Students Association (AMSA), in Australia, “85% of detainees are reported to have anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder were commonly reported, self-harm and suicidal ideation were also very prevalent.”

The Refugee Council of Australia says that the impacts of being in detention for a prolonged period of time are furthermore magnified “by the limited access... to physical and mental health services and social cultural and religious support networks available to asylum seekers in detention.”

Chegeni, an Iranian Kurd, had arrived in Australia by boat in 2010 and was found to be a refugee in the Curtin detention centre in 2013. There, he had gotten into a fight with other detainees and was charged for his part in the incident and spent more than a year in jail. At the end of his sentence, Mr Chegeni was taken back into immigration detention.

“There is no set time limit to how long a person may be held in immigration detention in Australia. This time spent in detention may vary from a few weeks up to a few years, even longer,” according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Chegeni’s death is the latest in a string of deaths of people held in Australian-run detention centres. Previous deaths in Australian detention centres include Hamid Kehazaei and Reza Barati at Manus Island in 2014. Ali Jaffari and Mohammad Nasim Najafi both died at Yongah Hill in Western Australia this year.

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