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Fiji Time: 9:35 PM on Wednesday 17 September

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Detention protest repeats history

Ropate Valemei
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THE protest of three Fijian nationals at the Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney, Australia on Monday is a repeat of one of the centre's history.

ABC Radio Australia reported that the asylum seekers had climbed onto the roof of the detention centre fearing being deported back to Fiji because of what they alleged as the abuse of homosexuals here.

It was reported that refugee advocates and lawyers had raised concerns about the safety of the Fijian trio continuing their roof protest.

Lawyer George Newhouse, who acted on behalf of the family of a 36-year-old Fijian national who jumped to his death at the centre in 2010, visited the protesters on Monday this week.

"I am very concerned. What we are seeing is a repeat of the death of Josefa Rauluni in 2010," Mr Newhouse told the media outlet. "What you had then was a Fijian man who was being removed, who had been given quite late notice and there were no police negotiators called to the site, and I am very concerned about the safety of these people," he said.

It is reported that mattresses had been put around the building in case the asylum seekers decided to jump.

However, Mr Newhouse said that in the past, protesters simply jumped over the mattresses to their death.

A spokesman for Australia's Department of Immigration also confirmed yesterday that the three were still on the roof at Villawood.

It reported that the three protesters were holding a banner that said "fear of the torture, fear of the sexual abuse", and another banner said "we want to live without fear because of the gay rights, we have no rights in Fiji".

ABC Radio also reported that one Sai Bulewa was one of the three protesters.

It reported that it told by the Australian immigration department that it (department) was working on the issue.