Asylum-seeker died while doctor lunched: NGO
By Harumi Ozawa, AFPTOKYO -- An asylum-seeker collapsed and died after staff at a Japanese immigration center failed to call for a medic, allegedly because the doctor was having lunch, a pressure group said Thursday.
October 25, 2013, 12:27 am TWN
Anwar Hussin, a member of Myanmar's Rohingya ethnic group, fell ill shortly after he was detained on Oct. 9, 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 center 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 detainees who had spoken to the dead man's cousin.
A doctor was summoned 51 minutes after Hussin's collapse, according to a timeline given to his cousin by the center.
Staff made an emergency call four minutes after the doctor's arrival and 55 minutes after being made aware of the problem, the timeline showed.
Hussin died in hospital on Oct. 14, it said.
A spokeswoman for the Tokyo Immigration Bureau said a man in his 50s from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, died of subarachnoid hemorrhage — a stroke — after collapsing in the detention center, 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.
“We refrain from disclosing details because it concerns private matters,” said the spokeswoman.
“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 the democratization 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) hospitalization. It was learned from other detainees,” said a spokeswoman.