Rohingya asylum-seeker died 'while doctor had lunch'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 3:37am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 3:37am

A Rohingya asylum-seeker collapsed and died after staff at a Japanese immigration centre failed to call for help because the doctor was having lunch, a pressure group said yesterday.

Anwar Hussin fell ill soon after he was detained on October 9, according to People's Forum on Burma, a Japan-based NGO headed by a Japanese lawyer.

Citing the 57-year-old's cousin, the group said Hussin had been complaining of a headache all morning and fell unconscious as he began eating lunch in his cell.

Fellow detainees - seven people of different nationalities - called for help because he was vomiting and having spasms.

Detention centre staff rejected their requests that a doctor be called, saying Hussin was just "having a seizure" and that the duty medic was on his lunch break, the group said, citing interviews with detainees.

A doctor was summoned 51 minutes after Hussin's collapse, according to a timeline given to his cousin by the centre.

Hussin died in hospital on October 14, it said.

A spokeswoman for the Tokyo Immigration Bureau said a man in his 50s from Myanmar died of a stroke after collapsing in the detention centre, confirming the dates given by the pressure group.

But she declined to confirm or deny the claims made by the NGO over how long it took for the doctor to be called. "We refrain from disclosing details because it concerns private matters," the spokeswoman said, adding the bureau believed staff handled the case appropriately.

Hussin came to Japan in 2006 and made two applications for asylum, both of which were rejected, according to the group, which said he was waiting for the result of his second appeal when he was detained.

According to figures provided by the Justice Ministry, last year 2,545 people applied for asylum, of whom 368 were from Myanmar - the second largest nationality group after the Turkish.