More protests at Villawood expected

August 21, 2007 - 1:34PM

More detainees are expected to join a protest against conditions at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre, where three inmates have spent almost a day on the facility's roof, a refugee advocate says.

New Zealanders Montana Kelly, 27, his cousin Bruce Ngaromoa, 32, and 30-year-old Vietnamese man Van Nguyn climbed onto the roof on Monday night in a protest sparked by the cancellation of inmates' visits to family outside the centre.

The men also are demanding improved health care at the centre.

Social Justice Network spokesman Jamal Daoud, who visited the centre on Tuesday afternoon, said there was a "heated" feeling among the 400-odd inmates and he predicted more action on Tuesday night.

"(Detainees) are ready to take more action," Mr Daoud said.

"Something could happen tonight or tomorrow ... maybe more people climbing on the roof."

Talking to AAP by mobile phone from the rooftop, two of the men claimed to have badly injured themselves climbing on the roof.

Mr Daoud said a meeting on Tuesday afternoon between centre management and a detainee representative had not been productive.

"(Management) say they can't do much until Canberra review the process," Mr Daoud said.

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said the matters would not be addressed until the men came down from the roof.

Mr Daoud, who said security at the centre had almost doubled, said he was disappointed the department had not sent a delegate to negotiate with protesters.

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said he would not order the removal of the three detainees from the roof for fear of them being hurt.

Asked on Macquarie Radio why centre officials did not simply put up a ladder and bring the men down, Mr Andrews said: "We have to be careful we don't cause any physical damage to them".

He said the three men were being held at the centre awaiting deportation, after being convicted of armed robbery or assault.

"The three people involved (in the protest) have lengthy and serious criminal histories and they're people that we will be seeking to remove from Australia," Mr Andrews said.

"The reason why any excursions out of Villawood in these situations have been stopped is because unfortunately we had someone who went on a visit a few weeks ago and absconded.

"I've taken the decision that I'm not prepared to allow that to happen and the only reason that a person will be escorted out of Villawood would be (for) something like a medical emergency."

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