Death of Wishma Sandamali in Japan: Sisters to Sue Japanese Immigration

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 27 2021
Columns Death of Wishma Sandamali in Japan: Sisters to Sue Japanese Immigration

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

The two sisters of Wishma Sandamali Ratnayake, on seeing the last days of Wishma’s life spent at Japan’s detention centre, on the CCTV, said they are going to file civil and criminal charges against the Japanese Immigration, because those footages are incredibly painful to watch and undoubtedly Wishma was left to die in the cell. Wayomi Ratnayake along with her sister Poornima is currently in Japan. They have demanded the Justice Ministry of Japan to release the full video footage of their sister while she was detained after they were shown carefully edited footage.

 A 33-year-old elementary school teacher, Wishma Rathnayake died in custody at the Nagoya Immigration Centre, March this year, due to lack of food and medical attention. Her death, of malnutrition and lack of proper medical treatment until the end, shocked the Japanese and Sri Lankans.

 In one horrifying part of the footage, Wayomi said she saw her sister asking for something to drink and coffee was offered by someone. After drinking, the coffee started seeping out through her nostrils and two officials standing by her had been seen laughing. 

“I am shocked to see this footage where officials were laughing over someone’s ill health and I don’t think even an animal would be treated in this manner,” she lamented over the phone. Wishma was seen asking for some tablets and as she cannot swallow she was pleading to force the tablets into her throat. It was at that point the coffee started to drip through her nose, Wayoma said. 

According to Wayomi, the detention centre with the permission of the Justice Ministry of Japan had agreed to show the video footage of the last two weeks of Wishma’s life spent in the cell but the one they received was highly edited. She alleged that of the last two weeks only a few minutes of each day’s activities were shown to them. 

The authorities said they have to remove many parts of the video for privacy reasons but Wayomi said, it had the most horrendous scenes that no one can digest. Speaking to Ceylon Today, she further noted, the footage was from 22 February 2021, and Wishma was seen paralysed below her hip and one hand lifeless. She was mourning and turning on her sides. It clearly showed she needed urgent medical attention but she was not given that care, Wayomi added. Some of her friends who had come to see her were blurred, so that we will not contact them. 

We don’t know who they were. The Japanese authorities said they will not show those persons who visited Wishma due to privacy policy, Wayomi added. In the footage, at one point a nurse walks in to massage Wishma’s fingers and legs but she was constantly told by their sister in Japanese to give her some physiotherapy. 

She was also taken for baths and brought back to her bed but those faces were blurred. “Wishma constantly told that nurse she wants to die which means she needed medical attention but the nurse did not alert anyone despite being a medical worker. Instead, she was telling Wishma to inform the people of the detention camp about her difficulties.” In the last three days from 3 March to 5 March, in one footage this nurse appeared visiting her. In one of the footages, WIshma was seen calling Santhosan three times and then Wishma falls from the bed. 

Fallen on the floor she calls ‘santhosan’ help me I fell. Over the speaker, a woman had responded “I know you fell’. After calling for help 23 times, the woman appears with two others and covers her with a bed sheet without taking her to the bed and Wishma was left on the floor that whole night. “They were saying you should get up and walk, try to walk you are too heavy if you don’t get up and walk you will be sleeping on the floor.” Wayomi said when they questioned the authorities of this ill-treatment, the officials had no answers.

 “They were silent throughout while we were crying.” They also allege that much of the horrendous treatment given to Wishma has been removed from the footages. These are serious human rights violations and need further scrutiny. She said that in Japan a Court case must end in three years and it would automatically get dismissed thereafter. Hence, we don’t want to drag the matter she said. 

Lawyers who are hired by NGOs have been assisting the Ratnayake family on this case and doing their best, she added. Her life could have been saved but what we realised is that she was to die in the cell. We are not shown the death certificate or the judicial medical report of our sister Wishma, Wayomi stressed.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 27 2021

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