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September 22, 2010

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Villawood update – First rooftop protest ends but more detainees stage new rooftop protest

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The nine Tamil detainees who protested all day on the roof of Villawood detention centre spent last night at a motel and all quite happy. They agreed to come down from the roof after securing an agreement for the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, to review their asylum claims. The UNHCR “deal” is really only what the UNHCR will usually do in any case ie review cases once Australian avenues exhausted. If they think there is a problem they will make recommendations to the government.

The fact that some of the Tamils have Indonesian or Malaysian UNHCR cards gives the Australian UNHCR more reason to take an interest, since it means the UNHCR judged their claims for refugee status legitimate while they were in Indonesia or Malaysia en route to Australia.

But the protest did force immigration to bring UNHCR into the detention centre and proof that protest does work. The deal at least provided a reason to be able to end the protest with some achievement.

There are now ten Chinese people, including a three month pregnant lady, on the roof of a building in stage 2 at the detention centre.

Details of their individual cases and demands are still not clear, cut being Chinese and in stage 2, it is likely they are visa overstayers who have made an asylum claim – there are quite a few Falun Gong members claiming refugee status in stage 2.

The situation for the Iranian hunger strikers is deteriorating. Two were hospitalised yesterday and it seems likely that more will be hospitalised today sometime.

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