NAGOYA -- People took to the streets across Japan on Sept. 25 urging the full disclosure of surveillance camera footage of a Sri Lankan woman who died in March while detained at the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau.
Wishma Sandamali died at age 33 on March 6. Her younger sister Poornima, 27, said in front of Nagoya Station, "The immigration bureau is lying to us, and is playing with us. No matter what I do here, my sister won't come back, but I will fight to find out the truth."
People including members of a students and citizens' association seeking for the truth about the death of Wishma, formed by multiple foreigner support groups and other organizations, attended the rallies. They held up signs, such as ones reading, "An immigration bureau that disregards the lives of foreign nationals doesn't have the authority to detain and repatriate them," and called on passersby to sign a request for full disclosure of the video.
The footage of Wishma that was disclosed to the bereaved family by the Immigration Services Agency of Japan in August was a roughly two-hour edited version of video taken from Feb. 22 to March 6. Lawyers were not permitted to attend while the bereaved family watched the footage.
Poornima, who participated in the rally, recalled, "I was distressed seeing my sister suffering, and couldn't watch until the end. The documents I received from the immigration bureau were blacked out, and the truth remains unknown."
Wishma's younger sister Wayomi, 29, returned to Sri Lanka on Sept. 23 due to psychological shock after seeing the footage. Poornima said, "I will stay in Japan and do my best until I find out the truth. I would like to request full disclosure in the presence of a lawyer."
Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer representing the bereaved family, criticized the immigration bureau's response, saying, "The immigration bureau is hiding the footage because it shows the truth about how she died. No one thinks the case has been resolved yet (after the final report was released)."
(Japanese original by Kazuki Sakuma, Nagoya News Center; Video by Koji Hyodo, Nagoya Photo Group, Tatsuya Onishi, Osaka Photo Department, and Shigeto Tanji, Tokyo Video Group)