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Hong Kong: Indonesian migrant domestic worker detained for 28 days for writing about Hong Kong protests

Hong Kong: Indonesian migrant domestic worker detained for 28 days for writing about Hong Kong protests

by IDWFED published Dec 01, 2019 12:00 AM
In the name of immigration measures, Hong Kong government politically suppress the worker writer



Photo credit: Terenia Puspita
  • Dec 1:

Yuli Riswati, well-known in Hong Kong public as the “Indonesian domestic worker writer”, has worked as a domestic worker in Hong Kong for ten years. She used to submit her writings to SUARA, the Indonesian newspaper in Hong Kong where Veby Mega Indah, the Indonesian reporter has her right eye short blinded by the Police. She is also an award-winning writer.

Last year, she got the Taiwan Literature Award for Migrants. She is well-known among the Indonesian migrant domestic workers for her facebook page “Independen Konseling BMI” and also her volunteer reporting for independent Indonesian online media “Migran Pos”.

Since the outcry of Hong Kong people against the authority’s extradition bill, she has shown her concern to Hong Kong people. She went into the People’s actions and activities to take photographs and writes on what is happening. She reads local and international news on Hong Kong to understand what is happening and writes to tell her fellow Indonesians news about Hong Kong. She does not want Indonesians in Hong Kong to be kept in the dark, and worse to be harassed and even intimidated by fake news and messages.

However, after news reports were made about her and her stance in support of Hong Kong people, officers of the immigration department of Hong Kong arrested her from her residency where it was also her workplace as a domestic worker on 23 Sep 2019. On 4 Nov 2019, the presiding officer of Sha Tin Magistrates' Court decided to “offer no evidence” against her. She is not being charged for her overstay. However, to her surprise, the Immigration Department then transferred her to Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC) and detained her with the reason that she has no friends and no homes in Hong Kong which is untrue. Her employer has all the time requested the Immigration Department to allow her to extend her visa and continue her work as an elderly carer.

Yuli has a two-year employment contract with her employer starting from 12 January 2019. As her passport expired in August 2019, her work visa was issued until 27 July 2019. She’d forgot to extend her visa which expired on 27 July 2019 after she has renewed her passport on 24 July 2019.

“It is quite often that migrant domestic workers forget to extend their visa. They always know well about their employment contract which is a two-year Standard Contract. They pay less attention to the visa. The workers have not or only limited English to understand well on everything. They are too busy working 24-hour standby from Monday to Saturday. Usually when it is found that the worker’s visa is expired, as long as there is still a contract, the employer confirms the hiring of the worker and explain in a letter  to the Immigration why they forgot to extend the visa, the Immigration always allow the workers to get their visa renewed without any hassle.  I have never seen a case that the Immigration will go to the homes and arrest workers based on this.” Dang, chairperson of Hong Kong Federation of Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) was surprised for what had happened to Yuli.

The Immigration has treated with Yuli’s non-renewal of visa with a heavy hand.  Since Yuli’s arrest, her employer has been continuously requested the Immigration for visa extension to allow her to continue to hire her. Her employer also allows her to stay with her residency. It was only until 8 Nov 2019, she was finally allowed to submit visa extension application during her detention at CIC. However, three days later, the immigration Department gave her a Removal Order which she made an appeal against it. The lawyers representing Yuli has been requesting the Immigration Department to issue her “Recognizance” so that she can wait without detained for her visa approval.

However, the Immigration Department has rejected the request for issuing recognizance and delays in replies to the questions raised by the lawyers. Yuli is continuously detained.

“What Yuli faced is unusual practice of the Immigration Department and probably unlawful. It is clearly a political suppression against Yuli for her writing, for her speaking up for the Hong Kong protesters.” Fish Ip, regional coordinator for International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF).

Yuli has been detained for 28 days until now. On 28 Nov 2019, she was told that her appeal against the Removal Order failed and confirmed that she has to be deported from Hong Kong. Yuli has got cold and sick but only got an unknown pill a day. She has been suffering from vomiting and flu but declined for medical treatment. She does not know she has to be detained until when. On 29 Nov 2019, the immigration officer, SK Cheng, forced Yuli to withdraw her visa application.

“The officer said if I don’t want to be detained at CIC, I have to withdraw the visa and then I can go back to Indonesia. But I don’t want to withdraw my visa application. I confronted with the immigration officer for the whole morning until I got too cold and felt sick. In the end, I wrote I withdraw my visa because I am being detained for too long and don’t know when I can go back. Again the officer said I cannot write that because the lawyer will give them troubles. At the end, against my will, I have to write I withdraw the visa, and I will go back to Indonesia to apply for a visa again.” Yuli cried when she was sharing the situation to her friends who visited her.

Yuli hopes the Immigration can treat her in a fair and just way. She wanted to get her visa extended to finish her contract and hope for no more political suppression and detention.

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Story Type: News

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