An Afghan asylum-seeker suffering depression and posttraumatic stress disorder tried to kill himself last week while being moved from a hospital in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, to a detention facility, it was learned Friday.
Four officials of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau’s Yokohama branch took the 50-year-old ethnic Hazaran into custody at the hospital on March 17, despite being forewarned that such action might trigger a suicide attempt.
The man stabbed his upper right arm, left thigh and abdomen with a knife while being transferred to the branch.
Immigration officers said they then returned the man to the hospital to receive medical attention. After a three-hour operation, he was immediately transferred to a detention facility.
The man is currently being held in the Higashi-Nihon Immigration Center in Ibaraki Prefecture, a long-term detention facility for foreigners awaiting deportation.
Lawyer Kanae Doi visited with the man Friday. She said he was bandaged, needed a wheelchair to get around and seemed physically and mentally devastated.
The man told her he has only been fed a bottle of milk each day since being transferred to the center on March 18. She said he begged her to get him out of the facility.
Doi said the man had been diagnosed with depression and PTSD triggered by persecution in his home country and harsh treatment by the Japanese government. A doctor had concluded he might attempt suicide if forced into detention.
The man has also been diagnosed as suffering various physical disorders, including an intestinal ulcer and a heart stricture, she said.
After the man received the deportation order on March 10, Doi submitted his medical report to the Yokohama immigration branch, asking that he not be detained.
But the branch officials turned up at the hospital on March 17, when the man was there to receive treatment.
An immigration branch spokesman said the courts had recognized the validity of his deportation order and the officials had no choice but to take him into custody.
Aware the man suffers emotional problems, the branch sent four officers to safely take bring him into detention. He said they were not expecting the man to make such an “unexpected move.”
The man came to Japan in August 2000 and lived in Ebina in the prefecture.
His application for refugee status was rejected in May 2002, and he has filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court, seeking recognition as a refugee. The case is still pending.