RACNSW] Villawood updates, plus coverage from channel 7, ABC, SMH, The Australia, Al Jazeera, BBC
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Frances Milne of Balmain for Refugees and tireless refugee advocate just called to say that the Fed Police are now assembling ladders to bring down the rooftop protesters. They protesters in turn are threatening to jump. If anyone can get out there NOW, please do.
Also, the police performed an operation last night inside Villawood, and snatched 22 mainly Iranian and Kurdish people, who were mostly already in bed, and transferred them to Silverwater prison. I will try to find out their names today, and hopefully a visit to the prison can be arranged. Report about this in The Australian, here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/detainees-arrested-as-sydney-protest-continues/story-e6frg6nf-1226043242169 , and SMH here: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/villawood-detainees-questioned-by-police-20110422-1dqxz.html
Melina, who was absolutely fantastic out at Villawood yesterday, gets a plug here on Channel 7. http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/newshome/9244925/poor-staff-training-blamed-for-villawood-riot/ Melina was involved in the democracy protests in Iran, and actually organised one at the Iranian embassy in Dubai after the killing of Neda. Her husband is inside. He has been three times rejected. She has visited him every day, from 12.30-7.45, for the past six months, and with Serco banning visiting yesterday, she joined us. When my energy levels were flagging late yesterday afternoon, it was her, her aunt, Hadi, the brother of Majid, one of the rooftop protesters, who kept me going. Melina is planning to stay out there 24 hours a day at least until our protest on Monday. When Fabia and I left at about 7.30pm, we left all the RAC placards and a pile of leaflets for Monday with Melina and the 15-20 other mainly Iranians who were going to stay there all night.
The SMH's Dylan Welsh has written a good report today, which also has quotes from Melina, as well as from Majid, one of the rooftop protesters.
There's plenty of negative news. The Daily Telegraph's poll, which asks "Do the Villawood asylum seekers have legitimate concerns?", is currently running at 7% yes, 93% no. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-nsw/rooftop-detention-protest-at-villawood-detention-centre-worsens/story-e6freuzi-1226043096793
Jim Casey, state secretrary of the FBEU also did very well on the 7.30 Report http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/, by stressing that no members of the Fire Brigade union were injured, and saying that the attacks on firefighters have been exaggerated. Unfortunately, Jamal has made claims that firefighters were deliberately hosing down the rooftop protesters. They may have got wet while firefighters tried to put out the flames, but I refuse to believe that firefighters would have directly hosed down people whose building wasn't actually going up in flames.
On Lateline http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/, Sarah Hanson-Young did well, although she repeatedly evaded what I thought was a very good question by Tony Jones...ie. will the greens use their political leverage to block other key legislation in order to force a change to mandatory detention? They should!!
Meanwhile, a 17 year old Afghan detainee in Darwin has made a plea to the government not to send Afghan asylum seekers back to Afghanistan. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/22/3198622.htm
Th second story on the Lateline site is about allegations of an AFP officer actually being present when a deported Tamil asylum seekers was susequently tortured. There's also an ABC news report of this here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/21/3198514.htm
This is the same Federal Police who are now "taking charge" of the situation at Villawood, and who "took charge" of Christmas Island 6 weeks ago.
I met the reporter for Al Jazeera yesterday afternoon out at Villawood. He said he's planning a more lengthy piece on mandatory detention in the coming weeks. He's described what happened at Villawood on Christmas Island 'predictable' http://blogs.aljazeera.net/asia/2011/04/21/predictable-riot
Here's the BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13153333
We now have three days until our protest at Villawood on Monday, 12pm at Chester Hill Station. We should strive to get the word out as far and wide as possible between now and then. We are holding a stall at the Woodville shopping centre next to Villawood station on Saturday 11-1. We have 100s of multi-lingual letters (English, Tamil, Arabic, Persian, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Spanish) that we have been putting into the letterboxes of people who live in the area around Villawood. I am also planning to leaflet the Michael Franti and Spearhead concert at the Enmore Theatre on Sunday night.
If anyone has other ideas, please go for it. I know there is a Food&Tunes festival at Adison Rd Marrickville tonight from 6-9, and an inner west rock gig at the Sandringham Hotel in Newtown from 1pm-midnight on both Sat and Sunday that should also draw a progressive crowd.
Our speakers so far are:
Iraj Moghadom (Iranian refugee)
Najeeba Wezfadost (Aghan refugee and spokesperson)
Adrian Francis (Tamil youth spokesperson, TBC)
Iraqi spokesperson (name TBC)
Jenny Diamond, General-Secretary, NSW Teachers' Federation
Annie Neilson (Greens candidate for Fairfield in recent state election)
Mark Goudkamp (Refugee Action Coalition)
ex-detainees, both speaking and playing music
Aussie says,Bring on the TREASON Trials
See who these swine are working for :