In Thailand they have several jail-like institutions called Immigration Detention Centers. It’s a place where people who have overstayed their visas are detained. Among the immigrants detained are many UN recognized refugees and asylum seekers, as well as people who have gotten denied asylum or people coming to Thailand to work but don’t have the proper permits.
I visited the IDC in Bangkok yesterday. It was quite a chocking and haunting experience. I’ve never seen a place like that before… I barely know how to describe it.
After applying to visit a detainee we were all let in at 10.30 and had to go through a procedure of leaving our belongings and passports and go through metall detectors. The food we had brought for the detainees we were visiting had to be screened separately. In the “meeting room” which was more of an open area with a few fans, the visitors and the detainees were separated by two high fences about a meter apart. We had to shout to try to talk to them. It was crazy. And impossible to hear what they were saying.
At 11.30 we had all been asked to leave and the big blue doors had closed.
The oldest detainee I saw was well above 60 years old, the youngest was 11 months. Families (often whole families get arrested) only get to see each other once a month on family day or during visiting hour if they all get visitors the same day…
Keeping children locked up like that is against the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Can’t write much more about it now. Let’s just say I was surprised by how much the visit effected me. It’s good to know there are NGOs working on improving conditions in the IDC and help the refugees.