Petition: Stand with Yuli！Fight against abusive detainment！
She is banging her head against the hard cold wall with her flesh and blood, what should we do to not let her down out in the cold?
Statement of the rally in support of the deported Indonesian writer, Yuli
Detained indefinitely without a crime, abused in detention and then deported “on her own agreement”, this is what happened to our friend, Yuli. In Hong Kong, millions participated in the anti-extradition (a.k.a. fight for democracy) movement, and many were much more involved than Yuli. But why Yuli? She is just writing about the movement, to bring the facts and development to her fellow Indonesians. Why should she be doomed into such calamity?
With the Indonesian Consulate repeatedly warning the Indonesian Migrant Workers not to be nosy about the anti-extradition movement, Yuli clearly knew that the movement is a sensitive issue. But still, she took the dangers upon her own shoulders. Now that we, Hongkongers, learnt of such an aspect of the movement, shall we try to understand more about the root causes of Yuli’s calamity, and to rethink the relationship between “us” and “them”? So that we will not lether down and left out in the cold?
When the story of Yuli came to light, people were upset and angry, and tended to understand her as being one of the victims of the government’s crackdown on the movement. Being friends of Yuli, we are grateful for your support. However, while Yuli is banging her head against the hard cold wall, the bloodstain of hers on the wall exposed that the ELAB movement was only the fuse that sparked off the bomb.
After Yuli was arrested, her friend, a fellow migrant, S remarked heartbreakingly, “Being domestic workers in Hong Kong, are we not allowed to support democracy?” S was not merely talking nonsense: fears and struggle were clearly shown on her face.
There are two main reasons that trapped her in such a dire strait: the unlimited power of the Immigration Department, and the underprivileged situation of foreign domestic workers in our system. If we truly care about our sister Yuli, we cannot circumvent these two big problems.
Immigration Department: Unlimited power, the horrible CIC detention centre as worse as San Uk Ling
Unlimited power – even not challengeable by judicial review
By the end of November, it was the insistence of the Immigration Office (IO) to issue a deportation order to Yuli that eventually forced her to forgo her resistance. As adviced by her lawyer, even if Yuli takesit up through legal action by submitting a judicial review of the deportation order, the possibility of winning the case is very low, as the power of the Immigration is almost unchallengeable.
Even if the decision of the Immigration is unreasonable, it can still be executed. For the 29 days’ detained at the Castle Peak Bay Immigration Center (CIC), a detention centre, the lawyer and employer of Yuli had tried every method to apply for a Recognizance for Yuli, in order to secure her release from the CIC. The reason that Immigration Office gave for the detention of Yuli was that Yuli had neither relatives nor residence in Hong Kong. But the fact was, the employer had repeatedly stated to the IO that she wills the employment of Yuli, and would provide for the residence and daily necessities of Yuli during the period when her Visa is being processed. Thus, the reason that IO detained Yuli was ungrounded. But no matter how much the employer and the lawyer tried and fought for Yuli, the IO had never given any reasonable response, and kept detaining Yuli indefinitely.
CIC detention centre – as horrible as San Uk Ling
When we visited Yuli, she looked devastated. With the dark circles around her eyes beingeven bigger than her eyes, she was talking with us through the glass panel while trying hard to hold back her tears. The CIC detention centre is used for detention of adults who have breached the “Immigration Ordinance” or who are awaiting repatriation. But the charges against Yuli were dropped and she was released in the court of law on 4 November.
Yuli told us that she had been experiencing daily abusive treatment, which included abuses targeting female. And despite the cold weatherweather, the detainees can only shower with cold water. Even if you catch a cold and got sick, vomiting all the time, the IO would only provide you with a single pill a day, and Yuli did not even know what kind of medicine it was. The freedom of the detainees in CIC were also very much limited. In the prisons of the Hong Kong Correctional Services, prisoners could listen to the news on the radio. But in the CIC detention centre, Yuli could only watch TV broadcast without sound and with the news programmes cut. They were not allowed to take a breath of fresh air in the outdoor compound. They could even be punished just by playing around a little bit with paper tissues. Yuli said, she saw that some of the people inside were becoming disoriented and showed signs of losing their mind.
It is important to point out again and again that Yuli was released and set free by the court of law. What on earth could allow such abuses against an innocent person?
The underprivileged foreign domestic workers: Three key points that made it impossible for them to enjoy their political freedom
When the abuse of Erwiana came to light in 2014, the then Secretary for Labour and Welfare Bureau, Matthew Cheung Kin Chung avowed loud and clear that foreign domestic workers enjoy the same rights just like ordinary people in Hong Kong. He claimed that they would also be protected by the Employment Ordinance. However, the limitations that the foreign domestic workers are facing in Hong Kong have made them into second-class citizens. The freedom of speech and participation in politics that we all treasured are a luxury to them.
Here, let’s take note of these keywords: “breach of the conditions of stay”, “two-weeks rule” and “rights for the application for permanent residence”.
“Breach of the Conditions of Stay”
Some might blame it on the foreign domestic workers that they only think and care about making money in Hong Kong, and do not care about the society. Actually, caring about or participating in the Hong Kong society could become the reason for them to bei prosecuted. Foreign domestic workers are forbidden to perform any work other than those listed in the Employment Contract, be it paid or unpaid. Even if you have only performed unpaid voluntary work, the Immigration can sue you for breach of the conditions of stay, if they want to pick on you. The consequences will be: getting fined, imprisoned, or losing the possibility to work in Hong Kong forever. How are you going to explain all that to your family far back in Indonesia who are waiting for your remittance to put food on the table?
Upon the termination of the employment contract, foreign domestic workers will only have two weeks to look for another employer. Or else, they will have to depart Hong Kong when the two-weeks limit is up. Foreigners in other types of work, for example, professors and professionals, do not have such restrictions. With such restrictions in place, it is not easy for foreign domestic workers to go against the will or disobey their employers. It is difficult for them to leave the job even if they are abused, let alone talking about their views on the society or politics.
“Rights for the application for permanent residence”
Foreign domestic workers do not enjoy the rights for the application for permanent residence, even if they have worked in Hong Kong for ten, twenty years or more, the answer is still “No!”. Notice that they are not only banned from having the rights of permanent residence: they are even not allowed for its application. This means that all these restrictions that made them into second-class citizens will be with them forever.
When we blame foreign domestic workers for not participating in the Hong Kong social affairs, have we ever thought about the limitations that they are facing? And have we ever thought thateven if they have not been participating in politics directly, they have actually always been contributing to our society? In the picket action in front of the IO on Monday, a brother in blackbloc and full gear pointed out in his speech that when they went back home after participating in the Sundays’ anti-extrabition actions washed with fatigue and teargas, it was the caring service of the foreign domestic workers that rejuvenated them and allowed them to move forward.
Being oppressed and suffered body and soul, Yuli was determined to struggle and resist duringthe detention for 29 days. With a resolute will , she fought for the justice that should belong to her and all foreign domestic workers. She exposed the huge and complicated problems. It is just like the anti-extradition movement, in which Hongkongers had not accepted fate as it is and stood firm to resist, and exposed the hidden dirt and lies of the government departments. We hope that what Yuli have given for the cause would inspire a broaderimagination and understanding of “community” among the people in resistance: Who are our sisters and brothers after all? What problems and issues do we want to solve in our society?
Finally, below are our demands to the government:
1. The Immigration Office must respond immediately: Why had Yulibeen subject to detention and deportation without being convicted by the court of law?
2. The Immigration must address and improve the horrible treatments in the detention centres.
3. The government must stop all oppression on the people in resistance.
4. The government must respect the freedom of participation in politics by foreign domestic workers, including the freedom of speech and political participation.
This Statement is initiated by: Yuli Support Group – formed by friends of Yuli in Hong Kong, including organizations and individuals