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Kin of dead Sri Lankan urge Japan immigration to completely disclose video


The family of a Sri Lankan woman who died in March following mistreatment at a Japanese immigration center visited the immigration agency Friday to hunt full disclosure of two weeks’ worth of security camera footage of her final days.

The relations of Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, 33, were only ready to see about half a two-hour edited version of the footage in August thanks to its shocking content. They also demanded the Immigration Services Agency of Japan accept the attendance of their lawyer while they watch it.

The immigration agency was prepared to point out the remaining footage to the family on Friday, but they refused to observe it as their request to be amid their lawyer was turned down.

Wishma’s younger sister Wayomi, 28, said the response of the agency was regrettable.

Shoichi Ibusuki, the lawyer for the family, said the agency had medical staff on call just in case they were to feel unwell watching the video but didn’t allow his attendance.

“The agency doesn’t understand the emotions of the bereaved family,” he said.

After seeing the video for the primary time on Aug. 12, the younger sisters of Wishma said their sibling had been treated “like a dog.”

Selected parts of the video showing the last days of Wishma, who died on March 6 while in custody, included scenes of her talking with other detainees and being mocked by immigration officers, the family said.

Wishma was taken to the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau in central Japan in August 2020 after it had been found her visa had expired. She had complained of stomach pain and other symptoms from mid-January and applied for provisional release for hospital treatment, but was refused.

Wishma’s other younger sister Poornima said at a news conference in August that Wishma “could are cured if that they had hospitalized her temporarily.”

Wayomi said, “Our sister was murdered. Anyone could see that her condition was deteriorating. She wasn’t treated sort of a person. we would like to ascertain the entire video, not just a neighborhood of it.”

The agency’s final report on the death of Wishma released in August said the Nagoya immigration facility did not provide appropriate medical aid for her, though the probe couldn’t determine the explanation for her death.

The agency had initially refused to disclose the footage to the family, citing security, but changed its policy after facing criticism.

An online petition launched by Wishma’s family and supporters in July to press the govt to release the complete video footage collected over 50,000 signatures and was handed to workplace officials the subsequent month. The petition is ongoing and therefore the supporters decide to submit additional signatures.

As of Friday afternoon, quite 76,000 people had signed the petition.

A university graduate and English teacher in her home country, Wishma entered Japan in June 2017 on a student visa getting to teach English to children, consistent with her family, supporters, and therefore the Justice Ministry.

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