After I was jailed, I realized the mistake I made. In Lai Chi Kok prison inmates told me to plead guilty for a shorter sentence. At court the duty lawyer told me to plead guilty. I didn’t know he just wanted to close my case. I took the advice despite being innocent. I was sitting outside a work site when police raided it and accused me of working inside. I was not! The judge looked down at me like was the Devil!
After I was jailed, I understood the system seeks quick convictions to give refugees a bad name. The more refugees are jailed for working the more skewed are Immigration statistics against us. In fact, I am forced to work for rent, utilities, food and clothes. But on the day I was arrested, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If there is justice in the courts of Shatin Magistracy, I didn’t encounter it!
After I was locked up, I realized how horrible jail is. The wooden bed was so hard my back is permanently damaged. In winter we received two blankets in freezing cold cells – I have never been that cold before. You wake up with fluff in your eyes and mouth from the cheap army blankets. Dinner is 4pm and you don’t have lunch till noon the next day. You think about eating all the time between meals.
After I was released, I understood how unfair seeking asylum in Hong Kong is. Refugees cannot find a room for 1200$ and many don’t get help for utilities. Refugees go hungry with the insulting food we receive from ISS-HK shops. We have to buy fresh vegetable and fruit for our children. The welfare system is designed to entrap. It forces us to work, so they can say, “You see, he came here to work!”
After I came out, I realize that pleading guilty was a terrible mistake. Now my Removal Order is a “Deportation Order”. I can never return and if I do I will be jailed for seven years. I came here for protection. Now the notice I have reads “This conviction has led the Director to conclude that your continued presence in Hong Kong is undesirable”. I was framed by the system. I was played like a fool.
After I was freed, I learnt that justice is dead in Hong Kong. Or there is no justice for certain groups of people. It is nice to be rich in this city that worships wealth, power and status. However, the message on the prison walls is, “Don’t be a fool! Don’t think that we protect refugees! Go back to your country!” For things to change, we need action that breaks the old ways and ushers in the fairness refugees deserve.
click here to see how refugees and residents are treated differently