We were a group of people who were detained by immigration in the Victoria Prison. Our conditions were so horrible. It was worse than the other detainees. The conditions under which we found ourselves were terrible for many reasons. We were confined in a place with a security guard who monitored our ever movement. You were not even allowed to be seen standing for even one minute. We sat at the same place from morning till evening.
Facilities for bathing were also very horrible. The one toilet in our detention area was what was also used to shower in. We had no other option. We had to create our own way of bathing. That is we had a small container which we would tilt at the mouth of a water pipe next to the urinal. We would fill the container half full. So in the corner next to the toilet we would bath. The saddest aspect of it all was that near where we would shower there was an open dustbin where women who shared the same toilet facilities would put their pads that were soaked with blood. Basically, women who were arrested giving birth in Hong Kong illegally were also kept in this prison. As there was only one toilet in our residence area, both women and men used the same toilet space.
Another problem was that whist you took your shower the security man would often knock at the door telling you to stop your shower for a minute so that women could go in and urinate. Whether you liked it or not, you would then have to come out covering yourself whilst the women would go urinate. If there was another man needing to use the toilet whilst you were showering then the guard would let him enter whilst you were naked showering in the corner. These were the problems with the bathroom. The shaving blade given to us was also another issue. They always gave us the same blade that was used by previous detainees. Hygienically, I felt this was very dangerous.
On the part of physical fitness, there was never a single day when we were able to even move around and stretch ourselves. Yes. Many of us felt sick. Frequently going to the hospital because of the terrible conditions under which we found ourselves during our detention in the Victoria prison. I was there for some months. If human rights are to be respected, what are we to say about these detention centre’s? Even in the animal kingdom beasts are allowed to have free movement. My situation did not even allow this. Never even being allowed to move around without the permission of the security guard. Showering and using the toilet with the guard always waiting outside for you. What happened to the basic freedoms of privacy? Where was my free will? Which part of the world does this treatment happen?
When I was sent to some police stations by the immigration centre I was forced to undergo naked body searches. Between the police and the immigration this shows that there was no trust between the two departments. If the detainees were brought to the police station by immigration officials why did I still need to be searched like that? Let me now talk about the handcuffs that I had to use. It was a daily activity that was going on in the Victoria prison. You would be handcuffed from the police station to the immigration centre, and then again when you returned from the immigration centre to other police stations that we would sometimes go to. Sometimes you have to travel from Victoria prison to the Yuen Long police station with handcuffs on. Whilst we were on the bus travelling between these places I would have to shift my weight to the side of the handcuffs because if you stretched to far in the other direction it would tighten and hurt. Whilst we were on the bus, we were not even allowed to talk to each other. I felt humiliated in these conditions. All the treatment that was given was inhumane. Psychologically, I was mistreated on many occasions. Religiously I was not treated according to how a human is to be treated. Either as a Muslim or a Christian we were not given the space to even remember our God. In Islam one is obliged to pray five times daily. We were denied from performing this duty.
After being released, another horrible situation occurred. We received little assistance. We were forced to undergo interviews at recognizance office. This was difficult because we were given no travel allowance. Sometimes asylum seekers had to travel from as far as Yuen long to attend an interview in central. In that year, reporting to the recognizance office was a weekly activity. This continued for many months, even more than a year. Sometimes you were called in for an interview which they would then cancel, without even telling you. Because of the problem of transportation costs some of us would have to walk from Mei fu to Star Ferry, and then to take the ferry to the interview centre. After the interview we would again have to take the ferry from central to Tsim Sha Tsui and then walk to Mei Fu. All of this was because we lacked the money needed for transportation. If you don’t mange this you could not go back home Sometimes people got stranded on their way. Even to the extent of arguing with a bus driver because they didn’t have the money to pay full fare.
During these times I, along with many others, had to sleep under the cultural centre near star ferry. All because of economic reasons. I slept near star ferry for many, many months. About eight months in total. Sometimes whilst I was sleeping under the cultural central there would be a heavy pour of rain. Then the sadness would come. Because I could not sleep. Rather I coiled myself like a snake to keep warm.
Whether you liked it or not you would have to obey the instructions of the security guards who patrolled the cultural centre.
There were many of us sleeping in these areas. Imagine going through this situation for almost 3 years. How can such a person have a clear mind under these circumstances? How could these things happen? Why did they happen? Who is responsible for my questions? Who is going to answer them?