Bangladesh asylum seeker deported following operating for years in Japan

DHAKA/TOKYO Abu Mentioned Shekh was awakened in his cell at a Japanese immigration detention center a single current morning and told he was leaving for the airport. Right after nine years of searching for political asylum in Japan, he was becoming deported to Bangladesh.

He was amongst 22 illegal immigrants, like an undisclosed number of failed asylum seekers, that have been put on a state-chartered plane and flown back to Bangladesh on Nov. 25, Japan’s Justice Ministry said.

Now back in Dhaka, Shekh is in hiding, saying he fears for his safety on what he calls a trumped-up court indictment on charges stemming from his membership in Awami League, then the main opposition party.

    “I can’t remain with my loved ones,” said Shekh by phone. “I’m extremely worried about the court case and whether or not I’ll be arrested once more.”

Shekh’s case just before a particular tribunal court in Dhaka was thrown out in 2009, which stated the charges were “political harassment”. But due to the fact he did not personally seem in court to hear that judgment he nevertheless faces an arrest warrant, court documents in Dhaka say. The Awami League in Dhaka confirmed that Shekh was a member of the party.

    Shekh featured in a Reuters investigation in July into the use of asylum seekers and other migrant workers in the Subaru automaker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd’s provide chain. At the time, he painted interior auto parts, functioning illegally but protected from deportation whilst his asylum claim was getting assessed.

Reuters discovered that firms in Subaru’s provide chain, facing extreme labor shortages and straining to meet soaring demand from the United States, had turned to a grey market place of foreign workers, like asylum seekers.

Japan has the lowest refugee recognition rate amongst Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. It accepted only 11 out of 5,000 applicants last year. In September, Tokyo announced plans to tighten restrictions on asylum seekers’ right to perform and placed new curbs on some reapplicants.

Last week, four Japanese non-governmental organizations criticized the “human rights and humanitarian problems” of detaining and deporting at short notice failed asylum seekers like Shekh, and other lengthy-term residents of Japan.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE

Shekh was charged with attacking police and damaging public home with explosives throughout a demonstration in 2002 by the Awami League, then the celebration in opposition.

Political violence is typical in Bangladesh, which has been alternately ruled by the Awami League, which is now in energy, or the Bangladesh Nationalist Party for the previous 24 years.

The current execution of two opposition leaders for atrocities committed in the 1971 war of independence has additional heightened tensions.

Shekh mentioned he came to Japan in 2003 to escape the indictment and overstayed his visa. He very first claimed asylum in June 2006 and said he applied once again five years later, working all through his time in Japan.

He was arrested on Nov. 20 and held in an immigration detention center in Tokyo. Four days later, Shekh was told his appeal of Japan’s selection not to grant him asylum had been rejected. He was deported along with 21 other Bangladeshis.

    It was the fourth round of the Justice Ministry’s program of forced deportations by chartered planes. Japan deported 26 Sri Lankan and six Vietnamese nationals in 2014, and 74 Filipinos and 46 Thais the year ahead of, the Justice Ministry said. It added that an unspecified quantity of failed asylum seekers had been amongst the deportees in every round.

    Over 5,500 men and women had been deported from Japan last year, government data show. It does not say how several of them had been failed asylum seekers like Shekh.

Opening up to immigration remains politically unpalatable in Japan, regardless of extreme labor shortages triggered by an ageing population. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has rejected calls from organizations and politicians to relax strict controls on blue-collar migrants, vowing to increase the number of females and elderly people in the labor force before letting in foreign manual workers.

(This version of the story was refiled to add a dropped sentence in paragraph five.)

(Reporting by Quadir Serajul and Thomas Wilson. Editing by Bill Tarrant.)

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