Eleven asylum seekers spent the night on the roof of one of the centre's buildings after yesterday asking to speak to Immigration Department officials. Two more men have since joined the protest, climbing onto the roof of another building. Two of the original protesters have cut themselves and the group has refused food and water.
The original 11 men - nine Sri Lankan Tamils and two Iraqis - have been protesting for 24 hours. They scaled the roof after the apparent suicide death of Fijian man Josefa Rauluni. Mr Rauluni is thought to have killed himself by jumping off the roof of one of the detention centre buildings.
Fiji Freedom and Democracy Movement president Usaia Waqatairewa says he spoke to Mr Rauluni twice as he stood on the detention centre's roof.
"[Rauluni] is saying to me: 'They're trying to grab me. I'd rather die than go back to Fiji'," he said.
Mr Waqatairewa says both times he asked to talk to Villawood security.
"I asked them to back off because I'm going to try and call the Department of Immigration to intervene and twice they hung up on me," he said.
"[Rauluni] asked to talk to the security guards standing nearby, appealing for them to back off, telling them he has the potential to be a major witness in a fraud case that [he's] trying to nail for the police, for people who have been victimised in Australia by Fiji, but they wouldn't listen. "The lady said: 'We've got a job to do' and I was really upset. I said: 'If he jumps, it's going to be your head on the chopping block' and she hung up on me."
The police investigation into Mr Rauluni's death is continuing.
But his death has sparked calls from the Federal Government's Immigration Detention Advisory Group for an overhaul of mental health care for asylum seekers.
But the new Federal Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, says it is not his responsibility. "Those are primarily matters that should be directed at the Immigration Minister," he said.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says he is reviewing what he describes is a tragic incident. "Obviously in relation to security I'll have a look at this incident and see if there's anything to learn from this incident," he said.
Protestors outline demands
Refugee advocate George Georgiadis says one of the protesters is a 24-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil who has a United Nations refugee card.
"I have photocopies of the letters from the Sri Lankan Red Cross addressed to the Australian Government that if this man is returned [to Sri Lanka] he will be killed," Mr Georgiadis said.
"His brother and sister have both been killed and he's actually quite desperate up there."
Australian Tamil Congress spokesman Bala Vigneswaran says the men on the roof would rather die than go back to their homeland where they could be tortured.
"That option is not on," he said. "If they are going to die there, [they say] we'll die here because we'll die without torture."
Dr Vigneswaran called one of the men on the roof and translated his comments to journalists.
The asylum seeker said they want someone from the Immigration Department to visit them, to hear their stories and how desperate they are. They say nobody from the department has been to visit them so far.
Through an interpreter outside the detention centre, the Sri Lankan Tamils outlined three requests. They want the Government, in a timely fashion, to treat them with compassion and review their applications for asylum. They also say they do not want to return to Sri Lanka under any circumstances, claiming they will be tortured and killed if they are forced to go back.
And they say if they cannot be accepted by Australia as genuine asylum seekers, they want the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to take over their case for settlement.
A social justice advocate who has been talking to Iraqi man Mohammed Al-Jarani, who remains on the roof, says he wants an independent assessment of his claims for asylum as well. If the Government can meet those demands, the stand-off could end today.