THIRTEEN people were injured, windows were smashed and three asylum seekers were arrested during a riot at the crowded Christmas Island detention centre at the weekend.
Federal police used capsicum spray to subdue some of those involved in the fracas, which led to several young Afghans being separated from other asylum seekers and locked in a dining room overnight for their own protection.
Sources said the altercation was similar to a violent incident earlier last month at another facility, the Darwin Airport Lodge, where hundreds of asylum seekers are being held.
While the catalyst is believed to be tension between Afghan Hazara boys and the protective fathers of girls in the centre, advocates say the violence is the consequence of frustration over indefinite detention, cramped conditions and inadequate facilities. Many of the unaccompanied minors are unable to attend school on the island. All are denied access to the community oval adjacent to the centre because of a dispute with the local cricket club.
More than a quarter of the 1033 minors in immigration detention are being held on the island, where teenagers complain that they have no privacy and little to do but dwell on the uncertainty of their situations.
Over the weekend, 15 unaccompanied minors were transferred from the island to Melbourne; 10 entered the transit centre at Broadmeadows and five went into community care. Eleven families were transferred to a low-security detention centre in the Adelaide Hills.