It was almost 15 years ago but I remember the day like it was yesterday. I came to Hong Kong to save my life. I had to find a safe place after fleeing Pakistan in the summer of 2001. After many years in 2010, my torture claim was rejected and I was charged with “remaining in Hong Kong unlawfully”. I was sent to prison for eight months for what I consider seeking asylum here.
When I was arrested, I was in shock … suddenly everything changed and I felt like a criminal. Immigration does not issue “asylum visas” so how are refugees expected to remain legally in Hong Kong while they wait for decision on their cases? Some refugees waited years for UNHCR to reject their case and didn’t surrender to Immigration. After rejection they were also prosecuted and jailed. Is it fair?
In June 2011 I was released from Pik Up Prison and transferred to Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (“CIC”) for deportation procedures. The government wanted to send me back to Pakistan where I told them my life was in serious danger. But nobody believed me. After I went inside CIC the office-in-charge took me to a room and shouted at me, “You must go back to your country!”
I said I would not go back, because my life is still not safe in Pakistan. After some questions, I had to sign some documents, then they sent me to the hall where a lot of people were waiting. Every day the officers force and force me to go back to my homeland. They didn’t’ listen. They didn’t believe. They didn’t understand. But why I choose more and more detention?
In this world, I think, most important and precious for every human being, after the air we breathe, is human rights and freedom. I always refused to be deported because I will face danger in Pakistan. Even if my arms and legs are bound in Hong Kong, I must prefer to stay here than return to be tortured to death.
When my trouble started we were 5 guys pressured by officers every day to leave Hong Kong. There were 2 Pakistani and 3 from India, but one India guy they sent back after a few weeks. And here I tell you a story that perhaps you will find hard to believe, but I have proof that I can show you. It was also reported in the South China Morning Post one day in September 2011.
The Immigration officers always force me to go back, but how I go back when still my problem is same since 2001? After many weeks the Immigration still refuse to give me bail out. I stopped eating and I was getting every day more and more sick. My hands and arms were shacking. They were not in my control. My arms were like rubber, they move and not stop. Then I was given a bed in prison hospital.
But Immigration still forced me to go back when I am sick. I was very tense. I was very scared. I didn’t know how many days or weeks I stopped eating. One night I went to toilet around 2am and I fell down. I could not stand up because my body was too weak already. My mind stopped working. Some friends helped to bring me out of the toilet. The officer-in-charge was shocked when he saw my condition.
The prison doctor called the emergency ambulance and they brought me out to Tuen Mun Hospital. I was in shock. I felt I was dreaming. The doctor injected me some medicine. After the check-up I was returned to prison hospital. I don’t know the exact date or month, but this happened during my detention at CIC, from 4 June 2011 to 20 June 2012. And they kept pressuring me to go back!
Later I learn the word “Hunger Strike”. For me it was just not eating as I wanted to die so the officers stop forcing me to go back my country. During the hunger strike three times my situation was very bad and I think I was dying. My body had no power. I don’t know how much weight I lost but my arms were skin and bones. My mind did not work and everything was like dreaming. Even my hands were not in control. Why I wanted to die and not live? I better loved detention and didn’t want to be deported. In prison I had life and breath and water. In my country I have fear and death. Why should I go back?
From childhood I read in books that for human life two things are most important: oxygen and water. So I had these two important things in my detention. More than 50 days I stayed inside the prison hospital. Many times they took me to Tuen Mun hospital. As a Muslim I believe in God and maybe I still have life because God is always with me.
I made 78 days hunger strike for my safety and for my freedom. Refugees who were inside with me are still in Hong Kong and they saw my arms become like sticks and my hands curl in like claws I could not move. I think the Merciful God gave me a new life and on 20 June 2012 Immigration give me bail out. Now even I forget my real birthday, because Immigration give me a new birthday.
So here in my mind I have a lot of questions. Was my long detention in CIC lawful? Were the law and the monthly notifications for further detention legal? The further detention made me hunger strike for 78 days. Even I was not a normal person, I was a prisoner. Even I had finished my sentenced in Pik Uk Prison. Even I was patient, but I could do nothing to make Immigration believe my case is real.
I stopped eating because I had no choice. If I go back I die suffering, but in prison I die peacefully. I stopped eating to try for freedom, to save my life. The law kept me in prison, but the hunger strike released me. The law is a very friendly thing for humanity. The country makes the law for a good and happy society. So we always try to do good and within the law. But every law is not always a right law.
I say respectfully that in my detention the law showed me the real face of death. I came very close to the world of death. Kindly believe me because every not eating day and hard suffering night, I saw the Main Gate of the Death World. But the good law cannot make me safe. The law make me dead. And luckily or unluckily I am writing to you about my detention time. And please I don’t want to be hurt more because of what I write now.
As human beings we must follow, accept and respect the law, but kindly I request that please you make the law with unity and humanity. And I hope that all the asylum seekers in Hong Kong and inside CIC detention will always follow the law. Even if we can make hunger strike for freedom, but we must do it peacefully and don’t break the law, because the law is the law.
(Name, Immigration number and contact provided)