A group of Cuban migrants who arrived here in September are protesting what they say are human rights violations by government.
On Thursday morning around 11 a.m., a group of eight migrants were standing in the yard of the Immigration Detention Centre, holding signs with slogans such as “We are not immigrants, we are refugees” and “We want a fair process.”
One of the Cubans told the Compass that the detainees are protesting how government is handling their asylum applications.
He said that nine of them applied for asylum, and eight were rejected. They believe they have not had their legal rights properly explained to them, they haven’t received a fair asylum hearing, and they do not have access to channels of communication.
Some have legal representation, but others do not, the Cuban told the Compass. One migrant was told by government that there are no legal aid funds available for that person, according to the Cuban.
Their main concern is being expatriated back to Cuba, the migrant told the Compass.
One of the protesters is a female who has previously been expatriated. She said that when she returned the first time, she was spied on by people from the Cuban government because she is a member of a political group that opposes the Communist regime there.
The public protest at the Immigration Detention Centre is the second one held there in the last six months. In July, nine Cubans launched a hunger strike in response to their prolonged detention at the immigration center. Five men in the center had been detained for more than two years. Six others had been detained for more than one year.
Later in 2018, the Cubans were released from the detention center under government supervision while their asylum applications were considered. However, some of them were returned to the center because of issues with finding housing for them.
According to the Cuban who spoke with the Compass on Thursday, the migrants were told by prison guards that their deportations would be hastened if they conducted a hunger strike this time.
Government did not issue a statement in response to the protest before this article’s press deadline.