A Nigerian asylum seeker and activist has been subjected to solitary confinement at the Tokyo immigration Bureau, Japan. The reason for her detention is said to be related to a crackdown on immigrants living in Japan without the right documents.
The woman, who is called Elizabeth Aruoriwo Obueza, was apprehended when authorities turned down an appeal against her asylum rejection, according to Reuters.
The 48-year-old is an activist who fights for asylum seekers in Japan as well as other immigrants who were released provisionally from detention.
The provisional release does not permit the immigrants to work and travel freely. Despite the conditions on which they have been released, these immigrants reportedly still work in hard labor sectors like Japan’s construction and manufacturing sectors.
Elizabeth, as well as other immigrants who were living in Japan without visas (some for decades), were detained. However, her lawyer is calling for her release.
“Elizabeth was targeted and detained for being an activist,” said immigration lawyer Shoichi Ibusuki. “I want her released immediately.”
“Elizabeth is held in solitary because she’s an activist and immigration officials don’t want her causing trouble,” said Mitsuru Miyasako, head of the Provisional Release Association in Japan, a group representing refugees and immigrants.
“Locking someone up alone in a tiny room is to ruin them psychologically.”
The solitary cells were originally meant for detainees who are ill, unruly or have tried to harm themselves
Elizabeth Obueza migrated to Japan in 1991 in order to escape from the gruesome situation of female genital mutilation. She was locked up for more than 22 hours a day, 4 hours more than regular detainees are kept in.
As an activist, she helps detainees navigate the asylum system and find lawyers, rights groups, a work she has been doing for more than a decade.
“I want to help people,” Obueza told Reuters. “Give me the right to help people – don’t put me in here.”
Even in detainment, Obueza still tries to help the detainees at the center whenever she gets to leave her cell.