Refugees call Hong Kong people: ‘don’t put us all in the same basket’

‘Many cases are genuine, but the way immigration handles them sometimes make them look bogus’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 June, 2016, 1:35am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 June, 2016, 1:35am

Some say people from countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan cannot be genuine asylum seekers. But men like John, from Bangladesh, and Sid, from India, prove them wrong.

They both saw their claims recognised in Hong Kong in recent months – both on appeal. They were the first successful cases regarding applicants from those countries.

“Many cases are genuine, but the way Immigration handles them sometimes make them look bogus. One needs to be lucky to have good people advising them,” John, not his real name, said.

He left his country for fear of political persecution in 2007 and arrived in Hong Kong because he was misled by a travel agent.

John, who wanted to go to South Korea, said he faced an adversarial system, from the UN to the Immigration Department.

“Even though many interviews were held, I felt that there was not enough time to tell my story in detail... But I waited patiently, because my claim was true,” he said.

Home is where the hurt is for tormented asylum seekers in Hong Kong

Negative comments against asylum seekers have increased over the past year, along with mention of “bogus refugees”, particularly in Chinese-language newspapers. Pro-establishment lawmakers have suggested the reopening of refugee camps.

Sid, also not his real name, who arrived in 2006 after being tortured by police in India, noted that no one knew whether a case was fake before it was screened. “Everyone should be given a fair chance to tell what happened to them,” he said.

Ben, from Africa, whose claim was substantiated last year and who is waiting to be resettled in another country, said he wished human rights were better upheld in the city.

“People think that we take advantage, but this is a prison for us. We are not allowed to do anything here... This is also like torture,” he said. “There are people who came here to work illegally, but they can’t put us all in the same basket ... Many of us came to seek help and protection.”