Refugee dies in Japan while doctor at lunch

2013-10-24 14:19


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tokyo - An asylum-seeker collapsed and died after staff at a Japanese immigration centre failed to call for help, allegedly because the doctor was having lunch, a pressure group said on Thursday.

Anwar Hussin, a member of Myanmar's Rohingya ethnic group, fell ill shortly after he was detained on 9 October, 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, the NGO said.

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.

Staff made an emergency call four minutes after the doctor's arrival, 55min after being made aware of the problem, the timeline showed.

Hussin died in hospital on 14 October, it said.

A spokesperson for the Tokyo Immigration Bureau said a man in his 50s from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, died of subarachnoid haemorrhage (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.

Persecuted minority

"We refrain from disclosing details because it concerns private matters," said the spokesperson.

"We are aware that some people have complained the man was neglected for some time," she said, adding the bureau believes staff handled the case appropriately. She said officials had explained the situation to the man's surviving family in Japan.

The People's Forum on Burma, which supports democratisation of Myanmar and aids refugees from the country when they arrive in Japan, disputes this.

"The bureau did not inform the family of [Hussin's] hospitalisation. It was obtained from other detainees," said a spokesperson.

Immigration officials gave few details until two days after Hussin's death, the spokesperson said, and then only when his cousin repeatedly pressed them.

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.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the claims.

Japan places tight restrictions on the number of immigrants and asylum-seekers it accepts.

According to figures provided by the Justice Ministry in 2012, 2 545 people applied for asylum, of whom 368 were from Myanmar (the second largest nationality group after the Turkish).

Japan accepted 18 refugees during the year.

The Rohingy, described by the UN as one of the most persecuted minorities on the planet and face travel restrictions, forced labour and limited access to healthcare and education in Myanmar, rights groups say.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800 000 Muslim Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship.

Read more on:    japan  |  myanmar  |  human rights

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.