My friends call me Manesh. I came to Hong Kong as a refugee in 2007 when the problems of asylum rolled over my like a black tide and drowned my hopes. This dark sea never lets me swim back to the surface and took away my dreams for a better future. Every day of asylum destroys a piece of me and my life loses meaning.
I suffered this pain for eight years and I cannot find a solution. I cannot return to my country, but also I cannot live here. So I feel that I am slowly dying. The memories of what I was before are swallowed by the darkness. I was a businessman, a political organizer, a loving father, a happy husband and a devoted son – everything was taken away from me.
Now I struggle to hold on to some dignity in asylum. It is not easy as humans need hope to support them through suffering and I have little left after eight years. The Hong Kong Immigration rejects 999 out of 1000 claimants and makes everyone feel unwanted and unwelcome. Refugees don’t get enough welfare and are not allowed to work, which turns us into professional beggars.
Refugees want a simple, safe life. We need security so that we are not worried that Immigration will send us back. We need jobs because work is important for human life – everyone understands it. Without work a person becomes sick, but we are not sick. Without work a person does not have a life, but we are not dead yet.
Truly I tell you, refugees live life in darkness. We never talk about any business or some big topic. We only talk about small things that give our lives very big problems like a cancer. For example, we don’t have enough money to pay rent. How to pay the landlord? We don’t have enough money for food. How to buy what we need to cook? We don’t have money for school books and uniforms. How to educate our children?
Here I tell you, refugee life is like prisoner life. We can walk the streets but we are trapped. We see people work, shop and enjoy, but we cannot earn money. If we do part-time jobs but are afraid of arrest and prison for 15 months. Then who will take care of our family? Some refugees fall into crime, but honestly what choice do we have? When they go to prison they are happy they don’t have to pay rent. Even somebody will cut their hair!
With respect I ask a question: Why for so many years the human rights for refugees were silent? Why nobody look at our condition of living and help to understand it is wrong? Today we hear a few voices from the same people fighting for refugee rights, but the community is silent. Are there two kind of human beings in Hong Kong, some with human rights and some without? I respectfully request that the government reconsider the policies and really protect refugees.