#FREEUSHIKU Stop long detention by Japan Immigration Bureau. Investigate suicide incidents

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After the suicide of an Indian man on April 13 who had been detained at the East Japan Immigration Center, more than a hundred detainees launched a hunger strike which lasted for a week. The number of participants in this desperate protest is much larger than the previous such strikes at various Immigration Centers in Japan. In light of the International Bill of Human Rights and Convention relating to the Status of the Refugees, we strongly support the detainees’ requests and urge the East Japan Immigration Center and the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice to fulfill the following demands.

1. Set up a third-party committee of investigation to clarify who have been responsible for having continued the dehumanizing detention, which led Mr. Deepak Kumar to take his own life at the age of 32 at the detention center on April 13th.

2.The Immigration Center is not a prison. The habit of detaining people indefinitely from 6 months up to more than 3 years must be stopped immediately. The detainees, especially those who have been subject to long detentions and suffering severe medical conditions as a consequence, should be immediately granted a temporary release status. Moreover, the center should clarify the ways in which it will care for the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder many ex-detainees suffer upon release.

3.Improve access to medical care inside the detention center, where the detainees are not allowed to see a doctor even when they are in urgent need of medical attention. As a result, a 33 year-old Iranian and a Cameroonian person have died during detention in 2014 at the East Japan Immigration Center. Tokyo Bar Association has issued a statement about the incident, indicating the grave responsibility of the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice. Last year, a Vietnamese man died in the same facility after his pleas for medical attention have been ignored by the center staffs.

More than a hundred detainees at the East Japan Immigration Center have launched a hunger strike following the apparent suicide of Mr. Deepak Kumar, a 32 year-old Indian man who was informed of the denial of temporary release status the previous day after 9 months of detention. Mr. Kumar came to Japan in April 2017. He was denied a refugee status and had been detained by the Immigration Bureau since July 2017. His family is demanding the Indian government to probe into the case. The family is waiting for his return.

Reuters reports that this is the fourth case of suicide committed by the detainees held by Japan’s Immigration Bureau since 2006. In addition, 10 people have died during detention in facilities notorious for the difficult access to medical care.
In March 2018, the detainees at the East Japan Immigration Center have sent its chief manager a letter of petition and requested to end the system of long and dehumanizing detention by which the Immigration Center violates the International Bill of Human Rights.

The Japanese government even refused to grant refugee status to people who have fled from the embattled Syria, or the Kurds who have been persecuted in Turkey. It is irrational to detain people after forcing them to become illegal immigrants, and immoral to deprive them of the fundamental rights in the dehumanizing conditions of the detention center. This must stop now. Let us never forget Mr. Deepak Kumar. His family is greaving in India. There is no justification for the kind of treatment he received in Japan.