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Bereaved family of Sri Lankan woman angered as Nagoya immigration withholds details, video

The late Wishma Sandamali's younger sisters Poornima, holding her photo, and Wayomi, next to Poornima, and others enter the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau in Nagoya's Minato Ward on May 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Shinichiro Kawase)

NAGOYA -- The bereaved family of a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman who died in March in detention at the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau met with the head of the bureau on May 17, though they say they did not get much of an explanation for her death, sparking anger among the group.

    Ten people including Wishma Sandamali's younger sisters Wayomi, 28, Poornima, 26, their lawyer and a national Diet member met with bureau Director-General Taketoshi Sano.

    The family and other sources said that Sano expressed his condolences, saying, "We take her passing seriously and extend to you our deepest sympathy." However, he reportedly provided very little explanation as to why Wishma, who had been complaining of poor health, was not taken to hospital. Sano was quoted as saying, "As we are being investigated by the Immigration Services Agency, there is little we can say."

    Wishma Sandamali's younger sisters Wayomi, right, and Poornima, second from right, speak to reporters after seeing the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau's director-general, in Nagoya's Minato Ward on May 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Shinichiro Kawase)

    The room where Wishma died was revealed to only four people: family members and childhood friends. Wayomi said angrily, "It was a tiny room, like it was for animals. It'd be natural that people in that kind of room would get depressed." Speaking about the bureau's explanation, Poornima said, "I got the impression that they were telling a lot of lies and trying to evade responsibility."

    Meanwhile, the immigration bureau prevented a lawmaker, lawyer and others from seeing the room for "security reasons." House of Councillors lawmaker Mizuho Fukushima, who accompanied them, commented, "It's a problem that they (the bureau) has not responded sincerely to us even as the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is being discussed in the Diet. It makes me wonder what they're trying to hide."

    The bureau also denied the family's persistent requests to see video of Wishma, again citing security reasons.

    (Japanese original by Shinichiro Kawase, Nagoya News Center)

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