Refugees’ first ever welfare protest at Legco

Legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung speaks to a delegation of Vision First refugees who lodged 44 complaint forms at the Legislative Council asking for an urgent review of the welfare assistance provided by the government.

Here is his speech:

I am glad to see so many people supporting this action today. You guys will be handing in your complaint forms. After you hand in your complaints, our staff will schedule a meeting with you. That will be sometime later, not today. It will not only be myself, but it will be a few Legislative Council members most likely from various political parties. So it will be the Council as a whole receiving your complaints. We do it today and I will make sure they take your complaint seriously.

This is solidarity. We all come together and the power is much greater as a group than any one individual. Lay everything down on your complaint forms, testify the problem and the Legislative Council members will meet with you. We will try to understand your situation and afterwards we will ask the various government departments to meet with us. They will also have to explain why these problems happened. They will have to change if these problems persist and we will demand them to do so. That will take a little bit of time. We can probably schedule a meeting with you guys in a couple of weeks.

There is another thing that is going to happen. Just this morning we had a Welfare Panel meeting, a standing committee in the Legislative Council. I have submitted a request to talk about the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong – especially about the wellbeing of you guys. We will hear your individual complaints, but as a matter of government policy – how Hong Kong should treat asylum seekers and refugees – we will discuss that in the Welfare Panel meeting. We will call a special meeting to talk about this and we will be scheduling this meeting within July. It will be hearing, which means that it will be open to you coming to give a presentation. It will be broadcast online and you can see it on our website.

We will invite you guys to come in as members of the public. You can come in and speak for maybe three minutes per person. You will be addressing the Legislative Council members and also various government officials who will be sitting there. I’m glad you guys came in. I understand the situation has not been very good. Any cases that involve children, education, terrible living conditions, lack of subsistence support, like food and rent, we should handle these cases as soon as possible. It is very important that you are united in solidarity and support each other through this action. 

Fernando urges refugees to stand united in solidarity to meet common goals

 

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Charitable Choice – June focus

click image to visit website

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Security Bureau on welfare assistance to refugees

Fernando Cheung letter to the Secretary of Security on 28 May 2013 (Chinese)

Fernando Cheung letter to the Secretary of Security on 28 May 2013 (English translation)

Secretary for Security reply to Fernando Cheung on 14 Jun 2013 (Chinese)

Secretary for Security reply to Fernando Cheung on 14 Jun 2013 (English translation)

 

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難民打工籌錢救病女 一日黑工換十四月監

http://www.pentoy.hk/%E6%99%82%E4%BA%8B/c190/2013/06/19/7433/

今日所有報紙,只有《南華早報》報道了這件事。來自斯里蘭卡的Dilan,因為在香港尋求難民身份期間,為天生心漏的孩子籌付醫藥費,在餐廳洗碗賺$200一日,被拘捕並控逾期居留期間做黑工,被判以重刑14個月監禁。更嚴厲的是,連上訴期間保釋外出,亦於昨日被高等法院駁回。

You either rob or you find a job. He took up employment, and was arrested for it.

協助Dilan的Vision First總裁Cosmo Beatson,指目前難民每月只收到$1200租務援助,另加每日$30食物費用。他反問:「你可以用三十蚊生存到一日嗎?如果你唔夠錢用,一係去搶、一係去打工。他們選擇了去打工,為什麼咁都要被人拉?」義工Lai Win Phyu,記述陪Dilini去醫院照超聲波。同是來自斯里蘭卡,Dilan的太太Dilini已懷孕。患有糖尿病的她,一個人帶著兩歲大的女兒滯留香港。Dilini的孩子天生心漏,即心裡穿了一個洞。她們去醫院,是為了尋找證據,證明Dilini的危險情況,希望可以讓醫生在法庭的求情信中寫一段,說明她需要人照顧,求法庭不要判她的丈夫入獄,或起碼上訴期間可以保釋。沒有香港人身份,令她在香港求診極度困難,到終於有醫生好心為她寫了報告,Dilini滿懷希望來到法庭,法庭卻對內容不屑一顧,認為她只須向坊間協助難民的NGO求助,孩子無需爸爸。即使到入境處見主任,入境處的保安對著她這樣一個孕婦,亦如見乞兒見狗一樣呼喝。義工記述,曾見過法官向一個難民父親大喝:「你的妻子為何懷孕?你不應該在這裡有孩子!你們這些人,就是香港的負累。」

打一日工 14個月監禁 上訴期間不准保釋

Dilan為了籌錢給心漏的孩子,冒險打黑工洗碗。這樣一宗輕微到極的「罪行」,竟然被重判14個月監禁!而當然, Dilan這種人,多數無法保釋——保釋條件之一,是你在本地要有連繫的親人,以確保你會不會潛逃。作為難民的Dilan一家,當然無親無故,亦不會令法庭信納他可以保釋。事情多麼諷刺:把Dilan關起來是怕他潛逃,事實上他潛逃了你又會很在乎?難道政府不是希望,這些難民、申請庇護的人,走得離香港愈遠愈好?

每天$30食物費,每個月$1200租津,不准打劫,更不准打工。打劫會拉,打工也會拉,判刑分分鐘可能差不多。程序就是,無身分證所以孕婦也不可以看醫生;法律就是,無家難民唯一的收容所,便是監獄。Dilan被關之後幾晚,懷孕Dilini在家中穿了羊水,身邊無人,只有兩歲的女兒。她失去知覺了幾個鐘,又或者一晚,但無人知曉。最後她終能叫了救護車,但到達醫院時,她子宮的感染已危及嬰兒安全,醫生必須為兩條命施以緊急手術。義工Lai Win Phyu的記述中,最後並沒有說到孩子最後怎樣。法庭記者沒有問。我們也許亦不想知道。

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Contacting Robert Tibbo

To the media: Robert Tibbo is not talking to the press at the moment. You are welcome to email your requests to cosmo@vfnow.org. Tibbo is a remarkable human rights lawyer who treats each of his clients with the deep respect and consideration. We have no doubt he gave Edward Snowden no special treatment while offering him the best legal advice in his darkest days.

To understand his work and spirit, please read this Vision First article. On 18 June, Vision First lead 40 refugee and family members to support Tibbo at the high court. Regrettably his bail application for a Srilankan refugees – arrested for working illegally when he had no means to survive – was inexorably dismissed. Nevertheless, it is significant in a media storm over one VIP client, Tibbo fought the court’s intransigence and prejudice against a nameless refugee with maximum conviction. We were indeed privileged to witness a human rights fighter stepping into the river of injustice just to be pummelled by the system of oppression that shows no leniency or understanding towards those seeking international protection in Hong Kong.

Despite greater preoccupations, Tibbo inspired us with his tenacity, the one attribute that sets true advocates apart from those who abuse this title by siding comfortably with the establishment. Fighting for justice takes courage and determination, attributes that Tibbo has in spades. It’s no surprise that Edward Snowden chose Tibbo from among 7,000 solicitors and barristers in Hong Kong. At Vision First everyone knows that he will compromise nothing to safeguard the rights of those fighting for their rights. We couldn’t be prouder to have him on the Vision First board of directors, tirelessly advising and strengthening our pursuit of justice to improve refugee conditions in Hong Kong. This is the spirit that animates Vision First and forges our friendship with Robert Tibbo – thank you.

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