Protests hit immigration detainee treatment

Some 30 Japanese, Chinese, Ghanaian and ethnic Kurds from Turkey staged protests Wednesday in front of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa Ward and the Justice Ministry in Chiyoda Ward, demanding better treatment for detainees.

Masanori Kashiwazaki, a member of SYI, a group supporting foreigners detained in immigration detention centers, gave identical protest letters to Shinagawa Immigration Bureau Director Shigeru Takaya and Justice Minister Keiko Chiba.

The protests were called after 70 detainees at the West Japan Immigration Control Center went on an 11-day hunger strike in early March, protesting alleged inhumane treatment by center officials.

“Give me back my father,” an ethnic Kurdish boy from Turkey shouted via a bullhorn during the protest in front of the immigration facility where his father is being held.

In the letters, the SYI demanded that the center stop violent and repressive treatment of detainees. They also urged the Immigration Bureau to investigate and disclose the cause of the death of a Ghanaian man aboard an airplane that was about to leave Narita airport on March 22 as the illegal resident was being deported to his home country.

Immigration officers reportedly overpowered the Ghanaian, who was allegedly acting violent.

“We want to encourage detainees by taking action. We want to send a message that they are not alone,” Kashiwazaki said.

“We heard immigration officers commit violence against detainees. But we don’t know what’s really going on. The thing is that the Immigration Bureau is very secretive. Detainees may receive harsher treatment than prisoners,” he said.