Christmas Island to take asylum-seekers: Five things you don’t know about the island

The Australian navy has intercepted an asylum-seeker boat with 75 passengers and two crew and is taking it to that tiny, lonely, moutainous Australian territory for refugees in the Indian Ocean: Christmas Island.


A boat carrying about 350 asylum seekers arrives at Christmas Island in 2001. (STR/REUTERS)

Despite its cheery name, Christmas Island is also a place with a sad and sordid history. Below are five things you may not know happened on the island:

1. Mutiny.

During the 1940s, when the British briefly ruled the island, a mutiny by Indian troops led to the murder of five British soldiers. The mutineers were give the death sentence by the Military Court in Singapore, but that sentenced was later commuted to penal servitude for life. 

2.Accusations of breaking international law.


Afghan refugees detained after trying to reach Christmas Island. (David Longstreath/AP)

3. Children thrown overboard.

Later that same year, allegations surfaced that asylum-seekers had thrown children overboard so that they would be rescued and taken to Australia. An inquiry later found that no children had been thrown overboard, and that the government had known it was untrue. The Australian government again came under fire for the way it handled the situation.

4. “Prison-like” detention centers.


People clamber on the rocky shore on Christmas Island during a rescue attempt of the boat. (AP)

5. Boat crashes

In 2010, some 50 asylum-seekers died off the coast of the island when their boat crashed into rocks at Flying Fish Cove. The screams of refugees being pounded into the rocks were heard all across the island.

Correction: This post originally stated that nuclear tests were conducted at Christmas Island. They were not. They were conducted at the island of Kirimati in the Pacific, which is also called Christmas Island.

world

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read

world

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters