I’m Anamika from Sri Lanka, Hello! Everyone of you might have heard that some asylum seekers were detained recently for working illegally in warehouses. This is also a story of such an asylum seeker whom I visited recently in prison. He is 29 years old, he came Hong Kong 6 years ago, he left his country because he faced problems from terrorists. When I went to Lai Chi Kok Detention Centre, I asked him, “Why did you gone for work? Are you not aware that asylum seekers can’t work here? Aren’t you aware you might be jailed for up to three years and nobody will take care of your wife and child?” He replied me, “I know that very well but my situation forced me to go for work.” So I asked him what kind of situation forced him to go for work then he told me his long story:
“I came to Hong Kong 6 years ago in order save my life as the government wanted to kill my father and family for supporting the opposition parties. My family can’t afford for all of us to come so they managed at least to send me here. I have 2 younger brothers and a younger sister. My father was the backbone for my family recently he was kidnapped by the terrorist and shot to death, after savagely torturing him. All my family burden has come to my shoulders a my mother is very old and sick from illness and worries. Though I came here to safeguard my life, now I have the responsibility to take care my family as well. Now my brothers are in high school, my sister is growing older as well. If I only save my life here then who would feed them? What would happen to my old mother and my brothers and sisters? What about their future? I’ve been waiting these 6 years for a response from UNHCR, but I didn’t hear anything until now. There are many Sri Lankans who have been waiting much longer than me. Even if I want to call anyone I need money for buy telephone card, can ISS provide that money? What about my daily needs? Do I have to beg for every single dollar for another 6 years? No and never. So I decided to go for work and earn money to help my family. Anyway it’s not work, it is slave work, for 12 hours from morning till night in dangerous places for only 250$. And sometimes the boss find reason not to pay us even that! Why does this HK government thinks only food and some rent help is enough for an asylum seeker? Then who would take care his family back in his country? There was a meeting at UNHCR last week and most refugees admitted they had to work here and there to survive in the city where everything is very expensive. My life is so painful here.”
When he was saying these I observed his arms, those were full of injuries . By seeing those injuries, I can understand how hard he has been working those days. One thing everyone have to remember that asylum seekers came here to save their life, but their situation forcing them to work. So what is the solution for this? It is only in the hands of HK government that should know refugee protection starts with food and rent, but ends with a durable solutions for those it MUST protect here. Thank you!