I am a 30 year old South Asian who escaped the breakdown of law and order in a country where corruption protects the powerful who commit crimes with no fear of arrest or prosecution in court. It is meaningless for HK Immigration to claim, “You failed to report the incident to the police [in your country]”, because protection is guaranteed to the highest bidder, not to victims.
One night in 2010 I was smuggled on a speedboat from China to Hong Kong with ten other people. We were very lucky because the next day a powerful typhoon struck and the dangerous crossing could have been deadly. I was very scared at sea on a flimsy fishing boat in pitch darkness. At one point we were hit by a huge wave and we thought we would die.
The smugglers landed us on the coast and told us to walk into the mountains to find the road. They didn’t come with us and we got lost walking at night. For seven days we roamed the mountains in Sai Kung Country Park. We had no food and drank from the streams we crossed. We were relieved when the police arrested us because we were desperately hungry and afraid we wouldn’t make it.
For five years I have been suffering as a refugee. The rent and food we receive is not enough. I have lived three years in the slums, the only place I can rent a room for 1500$. I used to work to pay for a village room, but I suffered a serious injury in the container port. A wave struck the container barge we were offloading and a cargo chain detached and snapped my right arm.
I have heard about two refugees who died under falling containers. I doubt there were any inquiries into their deaths or safety procedures were reviewed. Bosses give refugees dangerous jobs because they know we cannot complain and they won’t have to pay for damages if we get hurt. I did not come to Hong Kong to die, but to live. I risked my life coming here and also working to survive.
Last week my ISS caseworker (name withheld) told me not to protest. He said that a big officer would visit the slums and I should not join the demonstration for safe housing. I stayed in my hut and waited. The big officer did not come. I think ISS tried to block the protest because they don’t want us to talk about our suffering. ISS tell me to find a legal room for 1500$, but they know it is impossible.
I only get some food and 1500$ rent from ISS. In five years they gave me nothing, then last week they gave me a green blanket. I waited five winters for one blanket! Everything I use I collected from nearby garbage dumps where I go on Saturday nights after residents dump old things. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have clothes to wear, a bed to sleep on, a fridge to store food and a stove to cook.
I am not an economic migrant. I came to Hong Kong to save my life, not work or be a beggar.