A transgender man from Hong Kong, who has been kept in solitary confinement in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Georgia, has finally been released.
Yuen Tzu, also known as Chin, was taken out of solitary confinement in the facility in Irwin on July 16 and relocated to an ICE detention center in Dallas. Chin is now sharing a cell with a roommate, according to National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance executive director Glenn D. Magpantay.
Chin was held for 19 long months at the Irwin County Immigration Detention Center in central Georgia. ICE reportedly placed him in solitary confinement for the entire duration of his detention because he is transgender and they did not know what to do with him. There, he is said to have received inadequate and poor medical treatment.
NQAPIA, a network of Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander LGBTQ organizations, has long been demanding Chin’s release since he was placed in solitary confinement. The federation has also demanded that ICE to stop using solitary confinement for all trans detainees.
“Solitary is a heightened form of punishment and has been deemed to be a form of torture in violation of human rights, yet ICE holds trans detainees in such confinement for no reason other than their transgender status,” Magpantay wrote in a piece for Advocate. “It is sometimes thought to be reserved for convicted criminals violently out of control, but certainly not as confinement for persons based on gender expression. This abuse must end.”
NQAPIA has also been providing regular phone calls and legal advocacy for the detainee over the past year and a half.
Earlier this year, NQAPIA even held a demonstration for Chin, urging for his immediate release in front of the ICE field office in Atlanta. In a letter to the ICE Atlanta Field Director, the ICE Atlanta Assistant Director, and Irwin Detention Center Supervisor, NQAPIA called for proper medical treatment for Chin, his release from solitary confinement and eventual parole.
Magpantay pointed out that Chin’s plight is just one among the many trans men and women in ICE detention who have suffered from these poor conditions because ICE agents declared to not “know what to do with [them].”
“Some are held in segregated group cells, others in solitary confinement. There have been many reports of mistreatment, lack of medical services, distribution of incorrect medication and poor and inhumane conditions.”
While the appeal of Chin’s deportation is still pending, NQAPIA says it is celebrating his release from solitary confinement as a victory.
“Thank you to all who helped get Chin out of solitary — all who signed petitions, participated in actions, wrote postcards and letters, donated to Chin’s #GoFundMe, and more.”
“It’s been one hell of a fight and we celebrate every win, large and small — after 19 long months,” Magpantay wrote. “The fight isn’t over, but please take a moment to celebrate this win!”
Featured image via YouTube/National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance