Today in New Delhi, India
Jun 19, 2019-Wednesday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

Sheridan detainees recount harrowing tales of torture

In their statements, which are part of a petition filed in a US court, asylum seekers say they are living in inhuman conditions.

punjab Updated: Jul 25, 2018 13:41 IST
Hitender Rao
Hitender Rao
Hindustan Times, San Francisco
Sheridan,Sheridan detainees,Custom Enforcement
(Representative Image)

Written statements of detainees at the Sheridan federal detention centre, filed in support of a petition before a US district court, have revealed harrowing tales of torture they are subject to in custody after getting nabbed by the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) for crossing over into the United States. The statements include many by Indian detainees.

The translated statements are now a part of a petition filed by the Federal Public Defender, Oregon district.

There are 121 asylum seekers, including 52 Indians, most of whom are Sikhs, at the Sheridan detention facility.

No contact with kin

“I have not had any conversation with my wife since I came here. It is over a month and my family is worried... Whenever I ask them that I want to call my family, they would say, you cannot call,’’ said the statement from a detainee. Another detainee said they were not even allowed to perform daily prayers. “We are stripped regularly. When we would sit down to eat they would shout to eat quickly; we hardly get 10 minutes to eat. We never get vegetarian food. They would serve us meat, sometime beef and pork. We would not eat that and remain hungry,” said another detainee’s statement.

Stripped in public

In his statement, an Indian detainee said they were treated as prisoners. “A Sikh man with us is not allowed to tie his turban. When we came here, we were strip-searched in front of everybody. We pray that we be taken out of here. We will be thankful to you for this. There were two other people in my room and we face great difficulty. There is a toilet inside the room and they lock us in there,” he said.

The detainees said while being brought to Sheridan in a bus, they were handcuffed. The entire night we were hungry in the bus. It seemed that we are in control of the terrorists and were kidnapped,” a detainee said.

Another detainee said they were treated worse than prisoners. “Respected judge sir, we want to ask why we have been brought here? Why were we put with guilty people (criminals/gangsters)? Why are we punished like them? We have heard that in this country, people are helpful and treat others like us very well but the situation seems to be opposite. There are some people with us who used to tie cloth on their head (turban), but they are not allowed to do so which is an insult to them,’’ said a Latin-American detainee.

Several detainees that Federal Public Defender officials met reported untreated medical conditions. Some reported heart problems, a gun wound, broken leg, rashes, allergies, and sore throats. They tried to tell prison guards about their medical concerns, but are unable to communicate adequately in English.

First Published: Jul 25, 2018 13:38 IST