Villawood protest goes into 9th day

Negotiations to bring three detainees down from the roof of Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre have failed, as their protest goes into its ninth day.

Human rights’ activist Dr Mohamed Al Jabiri said he had gone into the centre on Thursday afternoon to negotiate with authorities on behalf of the detainees, but a compromise could not be reached.

“They were insisting that first of all, these people have to come down from the roof, so I asked them if they can get immunity (from being charged),” Dr Al Jabiri told AAP.

“They said no, we cannot give a promise.”

He said it appeared the protesters might be arrested if they came down and there would be no reconsideration of their visas.

A Department of Immigration spokesman said no details of the negotiations could be revealed.

“The detention centre provider (Serco) is continuing to engage with the men and encouraging them to come down from the roof,” the spokesman told AAP.

Majid Parhizkar, 24, from Iran, and stateless Kurdish men Mehdi Darabi, 24 and Amir Morad, 22, have been on the roof since April 20.

At the start of the prolonged protest, there was an overnight riot at the centre involving up to 100 detainees, who destroyed nine buildings by setting them on fire.

The trio has had its applications for asylum rejected twice.

While on the roof, they say they have been going without food but have been drinking water.

Social Justice Network spokesman Jamal Daoud said the men were weak, depressed and cold and wet from the rain.

Refugee advocates plan to hold a protest on Friday outside Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s electorate office at Fairfield in Sydney.

They will protest against Mr Bowen’s announcement earlier this week that the government will toughen laws to deter violent behaviour at detention centres.

The changes mean anyone convicted of criminal conduct while in immigration detention would automatically be denied a protection visa under character test rules.

Meanwhile, a small group of detainees at Christmas Island’s Northwest Point facility off Western Australia has come down from a roof, where up to eight had been staging a protest since Tuesday.

At the island’s lower security Phosphate Hill facility, a small group of protesters on Wednesday advised staff they were on a hunger strike.

But an immigration department spokesman said on Thursday they had “been observed eating” by centre staff.

Elsewhere, two asylum seekers, understood to be Iraqis, at the Perth Immigration Detention Centre, are receiving medical checks after threatening self harm.

The disturbances at the detention centres on Christmas Island and the Australian mainland are part of a series of recent events involving asylum seekers.

In March, the Christmas Island centre was the scene of mass breakouts and riots when accommodation tents were burnt down and Australian Federal Police used teargas and beanbag bullets to quell rock-throwing rioters.

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