Protest at Australian refugee centre

Last updated 12:07 13/11/2012

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Three asylum seekers are continuing a rooftop protest at Sydney's Villawood immigration detention centre.

Three Fijian nationals, a woman and two men, stayed on the roof overnight after starting their protest yesterday morning, the Department of Immigration (DIAC) has confirmed.

A department spokeswoman said guards from Serco, the security company that runs the facility, were negotiating with the trio, trying to persuade them to come down.

Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition said the woman and her husband were to be deported back to Fiji this week and the trio's protest was a desperate bid to prevent that.

Her husband is at Villawood but is not one of the rooftop protesters.

The three detainees believed there was an injunction preventing the couple's deportation and climbed onto the roof when guards came to take the woman to the airport, Rintoul said.

He said Serco staff had closed off the building and placed mattresses around its base in case anyone jumped.

"The situation is tragically similar to the situation in September 2010, when another Fijian man, Josepha Raulini, jumped to his death from the roof of a building in the Villawood compound," Rintoul said.

Urgent steps were being taken to gain an injunction to prevent the removal, Rintoul said.

George Newhouse, of Shine lawyers, has criticised the failure of police to be at Villawood after a coronial inquiry into the Raulini case recommended they be there in such situations.

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