Sri Lankans among Sydney rooftop protesters: refugee activist

SYDNEY, September 21, 2010 (AFP) – A group of protesting asylum-seekers Tuesday 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 AFP. 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 5:00 pm (0700 GMT).

“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 on Monday when Fiji’s Josefa Rauluni, 36, jumped from a building after receiving deportation orders.

Vigneswaran, who frequently visits Villawood and knows the Tamil protesters per