Davis warned of riots in advance

Labour MP Kelvin Davis was warned of potential riots when he visited Christmas Island last month, two weeks before the rioting began on November 9.

On October 24 The Guardian reported “New Zealand detainees on Christmas Island are so angry, hungry and traumatised they are allegedly considering rioting.”

Was the riot an inevitable reaction to the conditions being experienced? Was it spontaneous? Was it opportunistic? Or was it the result of a plan waiting for an excuse?

On Monday in Being ‘treated like animals’ sparked riots NZ Herald reported on the riot:

It is understood riots began in the early hours of this morning (local time) after prisoners learned of the death of a refugee who escaped the centre two days ago.

Fires are burning, walls have been smashed in, the lights have been turned off and there are no guards in sight, detainees say.

A New Zealand detainee, who the Herald has chosen not to name, said the riots kicked off after one person was allegedly assaulted by a guard when they asked about the body.

He said people at the centre were treated like animals, and they were sick of it.

“It was just a matter of time, all of us knew it. It was a matter of time because of the way they treat people…They’re meant to be so called welfare carers. Duty of care is their number one policy and bringing service to us, but they treat us like dogs. We’re treated like animals in here,” he told NZME News Service.

“We’re Kiwis, we’re not bred for the psychological trauma. We’re not bred to witness all of this. This is what war-torn country people [see], it’s not for us.”

And  Kiwi: Trouble ‘had been brewing’  NZ Herald reported a prisoner account of how the riot began:

New Zealand detainee Lester Hohua said the rioting at Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre had been brewing.

Over-crowding and alleged assaults by the emergency response team (ERT) had put the detainees, including about 40 New Zealanders, at “breaking point”, he said.

“This was always going to happen,” Mr Hohua told NZME News Service.

“You can only back someone into a corner so much.”

The unrest began with upset refugees asking officials what happened to refugee Fazel Chegeni, whose body was found on Sunday following his escape from the detention centre on Friday.

“They just wanted straight-forward answers, and weren’t given straight-forward answers,” Mr Hohua said.

The hated ERT were sent in, he claimed, and jostled with the refugees.

Mr Hohua claims that one ERT member challenged one refugee to a “one on one” fight.

“That’s when us 501s [convicted criminals with cancelled visas] got involved,” he said.

“You can’t f***ing do that. Who are you? You know.

“We didn’t get involved, as in, throw any punches, but we made sure that he wasn’t going to touch the refugee, or any of them were going to touch the refugee.

“Refugees don’t fight. Refugees just yell and scream and argue and get beaten up for it.

“Everything was about protecting each other, saving the refugees from getting the bash. We’re sticking up for our brothers.

“New Zealanders, just 501s in general, doesn’t matter what country you are from, are being beaten to a pulp, sent to hospital … we’re sick of it.

“People are scared by it. That’s why you had the reaction you had last night.”

Only a “small handful” of detainees then began rioting, Mr Hohua said.

Seven detainees, including five New Zealanders, have been moved from Christmas Island, accused of being responsible for the riot.

Davis had remained in contact with some detainees since his visit. Northern Advocate reported Kelvin Davis told riot on the cards.

When Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis visited Christmas Island in October he was told by detainees there could be rioting – this week that happened

Before Monday’s riots, Mr Davis said he had received a text from a detainee who said another detainee had climbed the fence and died in the jungle.

Then at about 4.30am he received a call from the same detainee saying riots had kicked off.

“He said it was going off, people were rioting. He said a guard had assaulted an asylum seeker in medical and he retaliated and others joined in and it grew from there.”

Mr Davis had spent a week on Christmas Island talking to detainees and building a rapport with them.

UK’s The Guardian had reported two weeks ago (24 October) that rioting was being considered:  New Zealanders held on Christmas Island so angry they may riot – Labour MP.

New Zealand detainees on Christmas Island are so angry, hungry and traumatised they are allegedly considering rioting.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis had a five-hour “highly emotional” visit with detainees on Friday, gaining access to the centre after a week waiting on the island.

Davis said the detainees are so desperate to return to their Australian homes, they are considering rioting.

“These New Zealand born Australians are not murderers or rapists. They have served their time yet Australian authorities are treating them as though they are a terrorism threat.”

None of the eight detainees Davis met wanted to return to New Zealand to settle their visa applications, as the Australian government has proposed.

“They think its a trick designed to prevent them from returning to their families and jobs in Australia,” he said.

So two weeks before the riot Davis said that detainees were considering rioting.

Youtube 27 October:

Kelvin met 8 detainees who were angry, hungry and desperate for help.

First impressions Kelvin?

Davis: Um, some horrible stories to be heard, I’m not that the head honcho here has given us the full truth, um seemed liked PR by numbers. Um the eight people we spoke to their stories were all consistent with what we have heard previously. Yeah, a bit of a hell hole.

NZ Parliament November 4.

Youtube November 8:

Kelvin Davis talks human rights and political advocacy at the Labour Party’s 99th conference held in Palmerston North last weekend. Here’s some images of the Christmas Island Detention Centre visit.

In that Davis talks of “their plight and hopelessness” but no mention of the potential for rioting.

Facebook 9 November 5:21:

BREAKING: Christmas Island detainees are taking over the facility. Fences are being torn down. They’ve had a guts full. ‪#‎freethe501s‬

Facebook 9 November 6:11:

Received the following text last night from a Christmas Island 501 detainee. It appears that the detainees have now had enough and are rioting. This is what happens when people are treated like animals. Australia must stop the human rights abuses.‪#‎freethe501s‬

“Kia ora everybody, a man has passed away this morning under some curious circumstances. First i would like to ask the lord almighty to bless us with a pure heart and a pure mind. Forgive us our sins and bless our brother FAZEL CHEGIHI soul as he departs this living hell and makes his way into your kingdom. On friday night our brother managed to get over the fence and spend his last days in this living hell, a free man. 5 years in detention and now your free of all your pain and suffering. All the torture Physically and mentally. The chains are broken! Now we stand together! 501 and refugee. No matter what, we come on the same waka, we will leave on the same waka! Everybody fears for there lives. What ever happened to our brother is immigrations and australian border force doing. R.I.P FAZEL CHEGIHI….Another day on the island.”

Facebook November 10:

“Probably mainstream Australia will saying this is the reason why we need to be lock them up, but this is what happens when people have their backs to the wall,”

Was the riot an inevitable reaction to the conditions being experienced? Was it spontaneous? Was it opportunistic? Or was it the result of a plan waiting for an excuse?

Did Davis encourage a violent reaction, did he try and defuse and discourage, or did he just let things take their course?

Was his visit seen as tacit approval of a riot reaction?

Questions that would be good to have answered.

NZ Herald reports that communications how now been cut off in Riot crackdown hits Kiwis.

New Zealand detainees’ attempts to get released from an Australian detention centre have been set back by a heavy-handed crackdown, advocates say.

Kiwis at the Christmas Island facility are now unable to reach lawyers or family because cellphones have been confiscated and other communications shut off.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis, who travelled to the island two weeks ago, said even detainees who had not been involved in the riots were facing harsh measures.

I presume this cuts off detainee communications with Davis.

Leave a comment


  1. In its eagerness to smear the PM, the media seems to have totally downplayed Davis’ role in this week’s events. His shirt-fronting of the PM in Parliament’s foyer on Tuesday (with camera crews in tow) was disgraceful, and was a major aggravating factor in what later transpired in the House. He is fortunate to have escaped being referred to the Privileges Committee IMHO. Since then he has published a supposedly “satirical” FB rant in which he alleges that Key has rung Turnbull to arrange for the detainees to be beaten. That is a baseless and scurrilous accusation.

    And questions need to be asked of Mr Davis. Was he forewarned of the impending riot? And if so, did he report his concerns to the Australian or New Zealand authorities, or did he simply draft another media release?

    • Budgieboy

       /  13th November 2015

      Absolutely bang on KS, Davis is being given very special treatment and I truly hope it comes back to bite them all in the butt. Good to see you by the way KS.

      • Here, for the record, is what Davis said on FB:

        Look I’ve done a complete about face in the last 18 or so hours since John Key’s shrill outburst in the House. I now understand his masterplan.

        Ya see, now that he’s said he wants the detainees back in NZ within “weeks, not months” he was so right about letting them get bashed, abused, starved and smacked around, because it is just going to make them better people when they get back to New Zealand and settle in to a house next door to you. He’s probably on the phone right now to his buddy Malcolm across the ditch saying, “Just touch them up a bit more Mal before they get here, a couple more smacks across the head with a baton will do them and ultimately all of New Zealand a world of good, y’know Malcolm, cause violence is always the answer, to everything, all the time.”

        The man’s a genius. Richie will be proud of him.

        As for me, not being afforded the unconditional protection of the Speaker in the House, I felt a more direct approach was necessary. Why use 10 words when four will do. Also I sort of got that whole Maori thing going on, y’know, kanohi-ki-te-kanohi, if you’re going to criticise someone, say it to their face, not behind their back. So “Prime Minister, you’re gutless.” popped out.

        Now some say I’ve endangered the Prime Minister, and I see their point. I’m a greying, overweight, middle aged Opposition MP. I’m surprised I’m not on some secret list somewhere. The fact that I’m not in a secret detention centre myself, somewhere here in New Zealand, sort of surprises me, given the threat I pose.

        You’ve gotta give it to the DPS they were on to it. Those four guys protecting the Prime Minister, and whose salaries cost the New Zealand taxpayer about half a million a year to keep the Prime Minister safe while he walks from his office to the debating chamber did their job. Let’s face it I thought they’d be a bit rusty having walked around behind the Prime Minister for seven years, profiling each of the parliamentary ushers and mail deliverers for potential threats as they approach the PM, but no, one of them sized me up, and threw himself at me, therefore neutralising the threat. He’ll have to work on his fend though, I’m not sure which was softer, the fend or my puku. Regardless he did his job, and if he doesn’t receive a gallantry award in the New Years Honours List.I’ll be upset for him. The other three though, um, I’m not sure they even knew I was there, so maybe they’re for the high jump.
        Regardless, that one hero will dine out on this until he retires.

        I’m expecting 8 DPS guys around the PM today. I hear Annette King might want to bid John Key, “Good afternoon Prime Minister” on the way to the debating chamber and they’ll need to move swiftly to neutralise that threat.


        The emphasis is mine.

    • KS – that FB post reads like it was written by Joe Trinder over at Mana News not Kelvin ; )

      • Dead right Dave – he’ll say it was “satire”, but there is an underlying nastiness to it, especially for a bloke who fronts anti-violence campaigns. Violence in any form is not a matter to joke about.

        • Unfortunately a large number of readers of his FB post won’t understand it is satire – they will take it as gospel and repeat if. I have been fascinated how these BS memes propagate through society and re-emerge month after month. Its clever messaging because the untruth just lingers and lingers – Joseph would be very impressed his methods from the 1930’s have gain such traction…

  2. traveller

     /  13th November 2015

    Many here will be seeing him Davis as complicit and collaborative if not instigative. I’d love to know his motivations. As people have said it initially was an anti-Serco, pro govt worker union run prisons exercise. He probably contacted an inmate/inmates known or referred to him and then it got personal. The way this has played out shows serious political naivety. It’s one thing to win the hearts and minds of his Māori electorate but quite another to have the skills to play this out on the national, trans Tasman and international stage. Advocating for the 501s (associates of or criminals themselves) flies in the face of his known position of advocating for women and children. The WAGS and children of criminals are often as marginalized as the victims of crime without recourse to compensation or support. The lack of victims of crime sympathy from anyone bad the PM to me is the clincher. It counts against Davis and Labour that victims of crime never warranted a cursory mention in all their bluster and posturing. Key knows this already and it’s little wonder he’s not cutting them any slack by apologizing to the women on the left for their contrived and insular theatrics.

    • Budgieboy

       /  13th November 2015

      I’d love to know his motivations to Traveller! I guess at this stage the best we can do is speculate on all but one thing, and that is that this does nothing to help the good folk of Te Tai Tokerau, And that’s not an electorate that needs be be ignored right now I wouldn’t have thought.

  3. Salacious P Crumb

     /  13th November 2015

    To show they should not be treated like animals, these prisoners behave like animals. Mm OK then.

  4. He looks more and more a future Labour leader. Bumbling along chasing the stories that resonate with a small clique of hard core lefties…..

    • traveller

       /  13th November 2015

      Aint he just. It really looking like he’s joined the dark side of hopeless causes. Imagine the Union boys calls to him on Tuesday. “Kelvin mate, what about SERCO, they never got a mention. It’s jobs for the boys and our government pensions we’re concerned about just like you! Whta a chance he missed making it all about “Our crim buddies”, you know the ones who love NZ so much they’d rather be in jail than return here.
      Anyone who ever doubted his leadership aspirations now surely must see he’s gagging for it. This wasn’t Northland business, wasn’t corrections business either. He’s aiming for the big seat and dissing Key and the heavies sounded pretty much like jealousy to me. He needs to put a lid on his ego, pull his head in, learn to crawl and get strategy that won’t make him frenemies. Heart on sleeve and reflecting badly for the team will win you no friends Kel!

      • A light spotlight time over Mt Eden has heated up the ego gases in his head leading to a swollen head….

        He would have been on a better footing pursing the hikoi on domestic violence line in my view. Just keep pushing that line and calling about abusers in the Northland community… a real issue of real consequence and right on his doorstep.That is a winner for a slow burn credibility on tough issues type approach. 2017 will give him a chance at leadership and allow him to build a profile and leadership support

        Instead it was a jaunt to Christmas Island to defend god knows who….

  5. Mike C

     /  13th November 2015

    I had respect for Kelvin Davis as a Politician … up until a few days ago.

    Davis appears to have been fostering and festering the Christmas Island thing over the past few weeks.

    His ambush on John Key with his posse of lefties journos outside Question Time was unacceptable behaviour on Davis’s part … and in about a years time, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most voters will be saying “Kelvin who ???”

    I have no doubt that Christmas Island will get sorted without Kelvin Davis constantly trying to throw kerosene onto the fire 🙂


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