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Activists Arrested Atop Sydney Opera House

Four people who scaled the Sydney Opera House to protest the "humanitarian crisis" on Manus Island have been arrested before they managed to unfurl a banner in support of refugees.

The group was arrested after 11am on Thursday just moments before they planned to display a banner calling on the Australian government to immediately evacuate refugees and asylum seekers from Manus Island.

Police search and rescue assisted by a helicopter and uniformed officers initially arrested one abseiler on the roof before the other activists abandoned their mission and were also arrested.

A fifth person was arrested near the Opera House forecourt.

The Whistleblower Activist and Citizens Alliance says the climb aimed to highlight "the inhumane treatment on Manus Island of men seeking asylum".

"The Opera House is an iconic symbol of Australian culture and we think Australia is becoming increasingly internationally recognised for its human rights abuse to refugees," WACA spokeswoman Lily Matchett told AAP on Thursday.

"Australia has become a world leader in cruelty - cruelty endorsed by both Liberal and Labor governments."

On Manus Island, almost 600 men have barricaded themselves inside the Papua New Guinea island's mothballed detention centre, a week after it was shut down.

They believe it's safer to remain in the compound than risk being attacked by locals at new facilities near the main township of Lorengau.

Scottish tourist Claire Campbell was on a tour when she saw a group surrounded by police just outside the front door.

"It looked as if there was a sit-down protest and then you came outside and noticed people up the sail," she told AAP.

"It had everyone's attention briefly before the police helicopter left."

Another tourist wasn't supportive.

"Get out of our way, you're ruining our view," he yelled at the protesters.


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