Australian Federal Police have charged 11 asylum seekers over a brawl at a detention centre on Christmas Island last November involving a group of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers which left 40 people injured, ABC news reported.
Police say the men, aged between 21 and 36, face a total of 23 charges including riot, assault and possessing weapons. The charges relate to a fight at the North West Point Immigration Detention Centre on November 21 last year.
It is understood the men appeared before the Christmas Island Magistrates Court this afternoon. Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition says the conditions at the detention centre, not the asylum seekers, are to blame for the riot.
"At the time we were told there was no damage to the detention centre," he said.
"It just seems to me to be entirely vindictive that the Federal Police and the Government are pursuing the asylum seekers for a fight that was really created by conditions inside the detention centre."
Last year it was reported that 150 Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers attacked each other with pool cues, tree branches and broom handles. Staff at the centre brought the riot under control within 30 minutes.
Thirty-seven detainees received medical treatment on the island and another three were flown to Perth with broken bones. Five security staff were also injured in the clash.
Refugee campaigners said overcrowding led to the violence, but the Government said tension had been building at the centre for some time, due partly to concerns from some Sri Lankans that their asylum applications would fail.
At the time, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the riot could affect the refugee applications of the asylum seekers involved.