Below is an eyewitness report of the protests at Villawood reposted from Brami Jegan’s blog
At about 11.55pm last night (Wednesday) I got a frantic call from ’S aunty’ saying that Villawood Immigration Detention Center was on fire and our friends inside (who we had got to know over the past year ) were really scared about the escalating unrest.
I immediately called Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition who was as usual on top of everything. I then called a friend inside the detention prison for an update: 3 buildings were on fire including the one where Serco worked from. He and about 15 others had escorted themselves to a safe area – but he was worried about the rest of the ‘prisoners’.
From my parents house in Greenacre I could hear sirens and also helicopters… and my phone continued to ring. So I grabbed my camera, jumped into the car and headed out there at about 12.45am.
There were probably about 150+ people (i am never good with guessing crowds) on the streets watching the fires – when I arrived at Gurney Road (the usual protest spot). There seemed to be pockets of fires everywhere but none out of control. Though I was told there had been a huge one before I arrived.
There were probably 5 or 6 Fire Brigades. At about 2am it was obvious that one of the fires was getting bigger than the building itself. A recent refugee who had been in Villawood for many many months told us it was the medical unit – which made us even more concerned.
Very soon after that the whole building was on fire and from where we stood it looked like the Fire Engines were unable to even to get to the building. Good thought had obviously gone into the design of the prison.
We also started hearing a lot of noise from within and it looked like glass was shattering. It was hard to tell if this was from the fires or unrest – but it continued loudly for quite a long time.
At someone point after that – we all heard a huge explosion. And from where we were standing (about 400 meters from the building) we felt it too. But we were the lucky ones. We were part of the ‘free world’.
As I was leaving at about 3am – most of that building had burnt – and you could see the remaining frame structure. It was hard to know how many fires were still going – maybe 4 or 5.
As I write this I keep refreshing google news to find out the latest – has anyone been hurt – has anyone jumped?
But what’s more devastating is not knowing if- even after all this destruction as a result of the severe psychological trauma that we put asylum seekers that come into this country through… the Government will do anything to fix what’s clearly broken.
And I look forward to all the shock jocks commenting about how ungrateful ‘those asylum seekers are’.