Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Villawood Rooftop Protest Ends

The Villawood rooftop protests by 11 detainees has ended after nearly 30 hours. Some of the men had threatened to jump from the roof if their asylum claims were not re-examined, whilst others cut their arms and chests to write a sign on a sheet in blood that read "We need help and freedom". All had been refusing food and water and two men collapsed from exhaustion in the midday heat and were taken to hospital. The authorities responded by bringing in a cherry-picker, placing protective mats around the perimeter of the building and trying to negotiate with the detainees.

A large group of supporters also gathered outside the detention centre to voice their support, whilst 12 protesters who had chained themselves to the Immigration Department offices near Sydney's Central Railway Station were arrested. Meanwhile, Professor Patrick McGorry, mental health expert and, ironically, Australian of the Year, has warned that that this type of protest involving self-harm will become more frequent as the overcrowding pressures within the detention centres increase and the time taken to process asylum claims lengthens.

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