Villawood supporters arrested on Bowen’s roof

Posted by admin on Apr 29th, 2011

ABC News, Apr. 29 2011

Police have arrested three refugee advocates who scaled the roof of the Federal Immigration Minister’s western Sydney electorate office. The protesters climbed onto the roof of Chris Bowen’s Fairfield office this morning in support of detainees at Villawood Detention Centre.

It is now 10 days since asylum seekers climbed onto the Villawood facility’s roof demanding to meet Mr Bowen.

On the first day of the protest nine buildings were destroyed by fire as detainees rioted.

One of those on Mr Bowen’s roof this morning, Emma Kefford from the Cross Border Collective, says she is ashamed at the treatment of the Villawood detainees.

“Some of the detainees currently on the top of Villawood and their families are trying to get a word with the Minister,” Ms Kefford said.

“So we are sort of here in support of them. Mostly it’s about them meeting with the Minister and having their demands listened to.”

She says Villawood is not the only detention centre they are concerned about.

“I believe at least 100 asylum seekers are having a having a hunger strike at the Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia,” she said.

“Similarly at Christmas Island people have also been protesting. We believe that their actions are justified and they’re being treated inhumanely.”

New South Wales Police Minister Mike Gallacher says state police were able to deal with the protesters, unlike the situation at Villawood.

“Fortunately in this case there is a difference between the two in that this is being held in state premises as opposed to Commonwealth premises, so state authorities do have the ability to intervene,” Mr Gallacher said.

Police say they expect to lay charges against the three protesters.

Superintendent Peter Lennon says the three-hour operation to remove the protesters was dangerous.

“We had to consider how to get up there and get them removed safely and… we had to have something at the front of the building and something at the rear of the building to make sure they had options,” he said.

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