REFILE-Bangladesh asylum seeker deported after working for years in Japan

Wed Dec 9, 2015 8:42pm EST
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(Fixes RIC for Fuji Heavy.)

By Serajul Quadir and Thomas Wilson

DHAKA/TOKYO Dec 10 (Reuters) - Abu Said Shekh was awakened in his cell at a Japanese immigration detention centre one recent morning and told he was leaving for the airport. After nine years of seeking political asylum in Japan, he was being deported to Bangladesh.

He was among 22 illegal immigrants, including an undisclosed number of failed asylum seekers, that were put on a state-chartered plane and flown back to Bangladesh on Nov. 25, Japan's Justice Ministry said.

Now back in Dhaka, Shekh is in hiding, saying he fears for his safety on what he calls a trumped-up court indictment on charges stemming from his membership in Awami League, then the main opposition party.

"I can't stay with my family," said Shekh by telephone. "I'm very worried about the court case and whether I'll be arrested again."

Shekh's case before a special tribunal court in Dhaka was thrown out in 2009, which said the charges were "political harassment". But because he did not personally appear in court to hear that judgment he still faces an arrest warrant, court documents in Dhaka say. The Awami League in Dhaka confirmed that Shekh was a member of the party.

Shekh featured in a Reuters investigation in July into the use of asylum seekers and other migrant workers in the Subaru automaker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd's supply chain. At the time, he painted interior car parts, working illegally but protected from deportation while his asylum claim was being assessed.

Reuters found that firms in Subaru's supply chain, facing severe labour shortages and straining to meet soaring demand from the United States, had turned to a grey market of foreign workers, including asylum seekers.   Continued...