Australian police launch investigation into asylum camp violence
Police officials in Australia are investigating whether a wave of arson and breakout attempts in immigration detentions centers over the past four days were deliberately carried out to exert pressure on the government.
Fires in four camps, and an unsuccessful breakout attempt on New Year's Eve from Sydney's Villawood center, have caused over $4 million damage, however no serious injuries have been reported.
The country has a controversial policy of mandatory detention for all asylum seekers with around 1,200 illegal immigrants currently being held.
Conditions in the camps have been strongly criticized by the UN and various human rights groups with some detainees having been held for over three years with little hope of release.
Some suspect this week's events may have been deliberately committed by refugee advocacy groups to refocus public attention on the detention issue, according to CNN.
Twenty-two inmates have currently been removed from Villawood and Woomera camp in central Australia, and are being held in maximum security jails, although no charges relating to the incidents have yet been laid. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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