press release : CIC’s hunger strike enters its fourth week – Demand for Stop Indefinite Detention

from: CIC detainees concern group
24-28 detainees from the Castle Peak Bay Immigration Services Center (CIC) started an indefinite hunger strike on June 29. Today is the 21st day and the hunger strike has entered its fourth week. The CIC Concern Group visited most of the hunger strikers again in the past few days. It was learned that some hunger strikers were sent to hospital or quitted hunger strikes due to health problems. At least 15 CIC detainees go on hunger strike. They have reported dizziness, muscle aches and fatigue. At least one hunger striker has stopped drinking. When there is no air conditioner nor fans under the summer heat, their situation is very worrying.

So far, the Immigration Department has not responded positively to the demands. The authority does not care about the hunger strikers’ health as well. The Immigration officers’ attitude has even turned worse and become aggressive. Some officers continue to yell at the hunger strikers. Some hunger strikers were taken away one by one and never returned to the room where they were detained together. This has created fear among the hunger strikers. The hunger strikers ask the Immigration officer how long more they will be detained. The answers are the same. The officers tell them to wait without more explanations. One hunger striker who has been detained at CIC for a year wants especially to tell the media that his mother and his cousin are both hospitalized. He wants so much to visit them. However, the immigration officers give no response to him.

Hunger striker Mazhar

CIC Concern Group visited Mazhar, a detainee at CIC who continued hunger striking. He came from Pakistan, and has been detained in CIC since June 2019, which is over a year now and still indefinite. He said, ‘After the release, I am ready for a new chapter in my life, the past is gone…… In CIC I have no chance to improve myself, even though I am not a criminal here .. My wife is willing to assist me financially to apply for an ID, I don’t understand why I still cannot get out.’

Mazhar’s wife is a permanent Hong Kong resident. In a phone interview earlier today, she said that her husband was sentenced for several months due to some family dispute, and after he served his sentence, he was put in CIC and denied legal aid during his detention. His wife hoped to find pro-bono service for him, and to know if he can stay in Hong Kong.

She regularly visited her husband, and during her visit last Saturday, she saw that his mood was stable, but he was fatigued both physically and mentally. She said her heart ached every day, because her husband had no other family or friend here in Hong Kong, and that if he had committed any crime, he had learnt his lesson and was willing to repent. The situation now meant that not only her husband suffers, but that she and her family also ‘suffer’. She did not understand why other people at CIC were allowed to bail, but for the case like his husband’s, he was not only not allowed to apply for an Hong Kong ID, but also denied the right to be bailed.

She recounted that after her husband’s release from jail, she was told that the immigration planned to deport him. She tried to apply for Hong Kong ID extension with Mazhar’s passport, but the Immigration refused to take her documents, and even asked her to hand Mazhar’s passport to them.

 

According to the legal advice she sought, she was being ‘tricked’ by the Immigration, because having a criminal record does not mean that one was not allowed to make relevant applications; at the very least the Immigration should accept the documents, and provide a written reply as to why the application was denied. The adviser also asked her to borrow the taken passport from the Immigration, but she was worried that the relevant department would stop working under the pandemic, and therefore had not yet followed up.

 

Immigration Department Ignore Hunger Strikers’ Health

The Immigration Department responded to the lawmakers and the media that it would pay attention to the health of the hunger strikers. However, CIC only measures their blood sugar level, and some reported that the staff forced them to drink super-sweet milk tea before the test, to create a fake result of normal blood sugar level. CIC does not conduct any other physical examinations. CIC still ignores the medical needs of detainees, except for one detainee that was mentioned by the CIC concern group last Wednesday (15th) to the media. That one detainee mentioned has been suffering from a tumor-like swell in his arm. The CIC has always denied him the medicine prescribed by the previous hospital doctor but given only a Panadol. After the media reported about his single case on Wednesday, he has finally got proper medicine. However, all the other detainees with illnesses we have contacted recently are still being rejected the basic right to proper medical treatment. No matter if it is headache, eye disease, back pain, vomiting, or whatever illness, CIC detainees are still given only Panadol. There is still no improvement in hygiene conditions at CIC. 

CIC Concern Group Initiated Petition in Support of Hunger Strikers; over 2000 Expressed Concern

In the past week, the CIC Concern Group and three Legislative Councilors, namely, Hon. Siu Ka-chun, Fernando Cheung Chiu Hung, and Eddie Chu Hoi Dick pressurized the Immigration Department to  stop indefinite detention and to improve CIC’s inhumane treatment of detainees. These include medical needs , hygiene and immigration officers’ attitude, etc. The three lawmakers and CIC concern group held a press conference, protest and made a human rights cake to Mr. AU Ka-wang, the new Director of Immigration, to demand him to respect human rights of CIC detainees.  The inhumane situation at CIC has also aroused public concern. The CIC Concern Group has launched a petition to support the CIC hunger strikers (link: https://forms.gle/gVzAeDzRUVoekRfp8). Within a few days, 2,000 people signed the petition. We will continue to collect the signatories. We demand the Immigration Department:

1) to stop indefinite detention of detainees in CIC as soon as possible, review all cases, release detainees and arrange bail or recognizance paper for them;

2) Director to meet the hunger strikers, their families and friends, legislators and CIC concern group to explain the situation;

3) to publicize the statistics for the average detention time in CIC by the Immigration Department, ensure the independence of ombudsman by the government, set up an independent complaint mechanism to free detainees from the fear for score-settling, as well as detailed measure on how to prevent detainees from solitarily confined simply because they lodge complaints. 

CIC Concern Group, 

Legco members Hon. Shiu Ka Chun, Hon. Fernando Cheung Chiu Hung, and Hon. Eddie Chu Hoi Dick

July 20, 2020

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