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Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012
Deportee center hunger strike abates, detentions drag on
Almost all of the detainees at the East Japan Immigration Control Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, have ended an 11-day hunger strike to protest their long detentions, a Tokyo-based volunteer group member said Friday.
About 120 detainees began refusing the center's food Aug. 20, said Mitsuru Miyasako of the support group Bond. About 60 people were still continuing the hunger strike as of Thursday, Miyasako said.
All but two women — a South Korean and a Peruvian — and six men — three Brazilians, a Peruvian, a South Korean and a Senegalese — decided to quit Friday.
Immigration official Hiroshi Hayashi confirmed the detainees had been refusing to eat the meals provided to them, but added they are free to buy food and beverages from a convenience store in the center and may have been eating food from the store.
The Ushiku center holds about 400 illegal foreign residents who have received deportation orders. They will either be deported or continue in detention until authorities decide whether to grant them a temporary release.
Those who participated in the quasi hunger strike are from Sri Lanka, Ghana, the Philippines, Myanmar, Pakistan and other countries, and included Kurds from Turkey, according to Miyasako.
The detention period was shortened in 2010 as the Justice Ministry, which supervises the Immigration Bureau, said in a news release in July that year that the bureau will try to avoid long detentions, but the period became long again in 2011 and continues to be the case this year, Miyasako said.
"Six months should be the maximum out of consideration for their physical and mental health," Miyasako said. But some detainees have been in the center for more than two years and there is no legal limit on such detentions.
"The main reason for long detentions is that they refuse to go back home," Hayashi said.
Miyasako countered that those who don't want to go home have legitimate reasons to stay in the country, such as having a Japanese spouse and children who can only speak Japanese, or that they are likely to be persecuted and are seeking asylum in Japan.