Sydney rooftop protesters in leap threat: Refugee activist

A group of protesting asylum-seekers today threatened to leap from the roof of a Sydney detention centre where a Fijian man plunged to his death a day earlier, an activist told agency.

Updated: Sep 21, 2010, 15:19 PM IST

Sydney: A group of protesting
asylum-seekers today threatened to leap from the roof of a
Sydney detention centre where a Fijian man plunged to his
death a day earlier, an activist told agency.

Bala Vigneswaran of the Australian Tamil Congress said
nine Sri Lankan Tamils, who are among 11 protesters on the
centre`s roof, had demanded a review of their cases and will
decide what action to take at 12.30 pm ISD.
"If the worst comes to the worst we will jump," the
Tamils said according to Vigneswaran, who warned a mass leap
from the two-storey building would spark chaos at the
Villawood centre.

"Jumping is only a start," he said. "If that happens,
people at the bottom will go out of control."

Negotiators and security guards were on the scene.
Activists said four of the protesters had deliberately slashed
themselves, while the group has unfurled a banner saying, "We
need help and freedom".

The tense stand-off, also involving an Iraqi and one man
whose nationality was unknown, started yesterday when Fiji`s
Josefa Rauluni, 36, jumped from a building after receiving
deportation orders.

Vigneswaran, who frequently visits Villawood and knows the
Tamil protesters personally, said he was "very worried" and
described the situation as "high-risk".
"Some of them talk about sacrifice for their brothers who
are here, to show how committed they are and how worried they
are about going back (to Sri Lanka)," he said.

Refugee advocates said Rauluni`s death had deeply
traumatised inmates at Villawood, which houses 300 people and
is being expanded to cope with a surge in asylum-seekers
arriving in Australia.

"The first person I spoke to, he was a babbling mess and
just ended up crying and wasn`t able to say anything other
than `I saw it, I saw it, I saw it` and just kept bawling his
eyes out," Brami Jagen told public broadcaster ABC.

PTI