We protest the Japanese Ministry of Justice and the Immigration Control Bureau. Stop long-term detention for foreigners right now, respect human rights！
July 24, 2019 (English translation of Japanese statement released on July 18, 2019) Statement on the Release of Mr.H from Long Term Detention [at Shinagawa Immigration Detention Center in Tokyo, Japan]
Society for Understanding Kurds in Japan Japan Kurdish Cultural Association Society for Supporting Kurdish Refugee Mr.M
Today (July 18, 2019) Mr.H, a Kurdish man with Turkish nationality who is applying for refugee status in Japan, was released from the Tokyo detention center for foreigners in Shinagawa, run by the Immigration Services Agency of Japan. It was a long period of detention lasting 1 year and 8 months. However, Mr.H's body and mind that were broken during this time will not heal so easily just because he has now been released from detention.
We have repeatedly visited Mr.H in detention, made formal protests, and submitted petitions for his release to the Immigration Center in Tokyo. We also collected close to 1500 signatures since May which have been submitted. We had the cooperation of lawyers, but also medical doctors and politicians. Even so, it seemed to us that the fundamental situation would not shift dramatically
Although we certainly cannot discount the efforts made by supporters, the main reason Mr.H was released is due to the chronic physical decline that he experienced. For over fifty days Mr.H had been put in a state where he was incapable of eating any of the food given to him. Having protested the oppression of the Kurds, Mr.H had been imprisoned for over ten years as a political prisoner in Turkey. During his time in detention by Japanese Immigration, Mr.H experienced flash backs of the physical torture suffered while in prison in Turkey, pushing him over the edge psychologically.
Visits with his family—his main source of emotional support—were restricted, he had no idea how long he would be detained, and the Japanese government did not seem to want to understand the predicament that he was in. It was in such circumstances that Mr.H self- harmed on so many occasions. On each such occasion he was confined to the disciplinary cells. He faced the looks of contempt and cruel treatment from Immigration staff, and the half-hearted examinations by the doctors stationed within the detention center. Surrounded only by walls, he was filled with despair because of the uncertainty of what was to come. He was placed in a state of temporal, spatial, and psychological enclosure.
Under such circumstances Mr.H became unable to eat. This was not a hunger strike which is a deliberate act. Mr.H was forced into a situation where he was unable to go on living. This is nothing other than abuse. Mr.H was placed in an enclosed situation of confinement where he was psychologically tortured in Japan. Regrettably, Mr.H became thin and weak, was physically broken, and began to age rapidly. Today, Immigration has released Mr.H from detention, having destroyed the life of a single human being, including that of his family.
On July 4, Mr.M who is a Kurdish refugee of Turkish nationality and a refugee applicant, was released from the detention facility at the East Japan Immigration Center in the town of Ushiku [Ibaraki prefecture]. He was also unable to eat and lost more than thirty kilograms in weight. In his case, Immigration did something else that defies belief. Around one month before Mr.M was to be let out on provisional release, one of his brothers was detained at the Tokyo Immigration Center. It can be surmised that Immigration recognized that Mr.M was in such a state that they could not continue to detain him, so they released Mr.M and decided to detain his bother instead. The grief felt by their mother is unimaginable.
What is this “Immigration bureau mentality” that allows such things to be done. Both those who work directly in supporting foreigners, as well as those who provide support indirectly having seen news regarding the situation of such people, have been shown the abuse of foreigners by Immigration whether we like it or not. Immigration is an administrative organization under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice in Japan. It pains us, as we feel confronted with the fact that there are Japanese people who have the kind of mentality that will relentlessly drive people they do not like into a corner and oppress them until they are dead psychologically. This is also abuse towards those who are forced to see such situations. We do not want to be subjected to such abuse any longer and we will not silently endure it.
On June 24, a Nigerian man detained at the Immigration Detention Facility at Omura [in Nagasaki prefecture] died because of sever deterioration to their health. At the detention center in Ushiku, a hunger strike that began with just four people in June, has now grown to involve around eighty people. Fearing that there could be deaths from emaciation, Immigration released four detainees on hunger strike on provisional release. One of the Iranians who was released stated, “because they only grant provisional release to those who are sick, we had no choice but to harm our own bodies. ” “It was either we leave the center on our own feet or as corpses” (Asahi Shinbun July 10, 2019). (*However, two of the released men have subsequently been detained just two weeks following their release from detention.) This is the situation for foreigners risking their lives to be freed from detention. It is unacceptable that there be any more victims, and we refuse to be subjected to seeing such situations. But now we cannot help but witness this reality, as Japanese people we are being confronted with the question of how to fight against this “Immigration bureau mentality”.
**Parts of the original statement in Japanese made public on July 18, have been amended to reflect subsequent developments and information that was not yet available at the time.