Innocent Eritrean asylum seekers are making hunger strike in Panama city immigration detention center. They are considered as criminals and exposed to inhuman, degrading treatment without a known crime and the fear of deportation back to Eritrea. They are living in constant fear of being deported.They are just waiting and expecting the worst. Those who have been deported in the past have been subjected to severe torture and physical abuse, so much so that some have even died in custody.
The conditions in the Panama detention centers are inhumane. At best, you are subject to indefinite warehousing in remote areas without access to courts or due process. You can't stand the acrid smell of the cells. The whole room is three meters per eight. They are some 100 people inside. Piled one over the other. There are no beds, They sleep on the ground on some dirty foam mattresses.
Behind, on the walls, somebody has written Guantanamo. But we are not in the U.S. base. We are in Panama. And the detainees are not suspected terrorists, but asylum seeker immigrants. People press behind the door. They have not been receiving any visits since they were arrested. They are suffering from some skin reaction/allergy due to unhygienic conditions. They are even suffering from malaria and lung cancer and mental stress due to the inhumane conditions they are held in.
They have been locked in this prison for about one year. Each room has a toilet facility but the toilets tend to overflow and the water enters the rooms where they sleep, making the place unhygienic. They complain that the prison cells are damp and humid all the time. Health Conditions They are not being provided with proper food. They are given small meals which are not enough for them. Their drinking water is not clean hence they found it very difficult to drink. Further, they are not provided with appropriate medical facilities. Right to Visit Only a few personnel have been allowed to visit the detention centre and observe the prison conditions, otherwise, there is a strict restriction against allowing access to any outsider.
Eritrea's extensive detention and torture of its citizens and its policy of prolonged military conscription and Arbitrary arrest, torture, appalling detention conditions, disappearances,forced labour, and severe restrictions on freedom of movement, expression, and worship are causing Eritreans to flee the country and forces the youth to take any desperate measure in search of freedom. Military service is compulsory for all men and women aged 18 to 40. There is no limit on length of service. There is no exemption for conscientious objectors. If you try to flee you risk the possibility of being shot by Eritrean border guards. The government also punishes your family if you manage to escape or desert from national service with fines or imprisonment. However, being an Eritrean youth the only choice you have is either to take the drastic decision to leave your country on this perilous journey or spent years in trenches facing Ethiopian forces dug-in across the border. Out of necessity and survival it’s no wonder that you will decide to undertake perilous journeys in search of a better life.