Trio protest on detention centre roof
The Age (Melbourne)
August 20, 2007
Three Villawood detainees awaiting deportation were this morning refusing to come off the roof of the Sydney immigration detention facility where they had spent, demanding reinstatement of their visiting rights.
Van Nguyen, from Vietnam, and New Zealand nationals Montana Kelly and Bruce Ngaromo, all of whom were recently released from prison, forced their way onto the roof early Monday evening.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said Villawood management had so far failed to persuade the men to end their protest.
“The situation will be assessed this morning. Obviously they are being encouraged to come down voluntarily,” the spokeswoman said.
“There are significant safety risks to them and to other persons with any effort to remove a person from a roof, so we'll just see how we go.”
It was too early to say what disciplinary action the men, who used force to gain access to the roof, would face, she said.
The three protesters had recently been released from prison after serving lengthy sentences, the spokeswoman said.
Their protest was sparked by a ban on home visits.
The minister's spokeswoman said detainees whose visas had been cancelled on character grounds were banned from home visits for four weeks, except in exceptional circumstances, while a security review took place.
“In light of a detainee absconding on an excursion we have introduced this measure,” she said.
All detainees in stage one of the detention centre were on a hunger strike in support of the three men and were also demanding the resumption of visits, Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Jamal Daoud said.