actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

Request[AMA Request] Michael Daaph (Big Shaq), the man that can never be hot

Dec 15th 2017 by Paristrife • 7 Questions • 56 Points

The conditions are horrible, the atmosphere is one of despair and desperation, basic necessities are difficult to come by and art supplies almost impossible to find.

People are often held here for years, sometimes for more than a decade, cut off from their families, from their jobs, from the world. It's especially hard during the holiday season with so many being kept from their familes, often with young kids who don't understand why daddy isn't at home.

I'm also the artist behind "Flowers For Bicutan", a fundraiser trying to supply food, medicine and legal aid to the detainees held in a third world detention center. I'll be donating artwork in exchange for donations.

Ask me about living here, about being an artist under these conditions, about the affects of "indefinite temporary detention" etc. Ask me anything.

Proof of location: https://truepic.com/search/?id=xz7ld6nn

Please note that I cannot reveal my identity as Immigration staff forbid us from using social media.

Q:

You know that lynx is like axe but in England right?

A:

With the ban on social media, how are you able to access Reddit? And that would be the repercussions if they were to find out you’re doing this AMA?


Q:

Is it as shitty as axe?

A:

The ban isnt a ban per se. Nothing written, no clear directive. But.. for example if you post something derogatory towards the Immigration officials on facebook, they confiscate your phone. We had one guy whose x-wife put him here. He posted his story and it got thousands of followers. She complained to Immigration. They confiscated his phone. I expect they will confiscate my phone tomorrow or later this week. Only one artist here. Your phone is your lifeline. Its communication with the outside world, family, wife or girlfriend if you have one, friends, work, attorney, bank.... Its more than that. Its our mental escape. Its movies, games whatever you need to take your mind somewhere else. For me its music, art and ebooks. We have a few paperbacks. Ive read them. Numerous times. The Koreans and Taiwanese own mp3 soundsystems so we get a half dozen compilations of their music playing. Again and again and again... There is a tv which is sometimes on for a few hours, but the guards have the controls so not useful if you dont enjoy beauty contests or local soaps. It makes a world of difference to slip on a pair of earphones, close your eyes and escape into music. Its sanity. Its a very thin thread which can help you hold on to sanity. Without a phone this place is hell.


Q:

Are you able to share anymore photos documenting the conditions you are in? Before they come for your phone. ;-) Stay safe brother!

A:

We have some photos posted at flowersforbicutan.jimdo.com and there are a lot more out there. Just google Bicutan Immigration Detention Center and some of those sites have a lot of pics. To be honest, Im only allowed to use my phone a few hours a day(international law says I get unlimited access. Local office of the Ombudsman says I get unlimited access. Local Commission on Human Rights says I get unlimited access. I dont get unlimited access). Im borrowing a phone from a Korean. We recently had about 60 Koreans deported, all organized crime, all of whom had been paying bribes to avoid deportation because they have criminal charges back home. The way it works is you pay a bribe to the administration office( the admin staff are nicknamed "how-much-E" by the Koreans because they can be bribed to do ANYTHING) and you get your phone inside, its done monthly just like a utility fee. So some Koreans were deported and there are extra phones inside that other Koreans inherited. Im borrowing one, but if they see me with it taking pictures I'll lose this one. I cant use my phone for this, the admin staff go through your phone pretty often while its in the office. Another detainee here who is a real reddit addict tried to post some pics in a comment here today but the mods seem to have barred it. But there are tons of pics online. Just do a google search.


Q:

If you're the only artist there then logically, they already know who you are just by your making this post.

A:

Correct. I expect they will seize my phone this week. It might take them a bit longer, it's the holiday season and not many government employees are doing much by way of work. It's a question of how motivated they are to punish me, and how much bad press punishing me will get them. Being European, they are unlikely to send me to the solitary cells for this. Not for very long anyway. If I were from an African country for example the repercussions could be vastly worse for me.


Q:

If you don't mind me asking,

1.) what got you jailed? 2.) how long have you been there? 3.) what actions can you take to secure your release? 4.) could you contact your family? 5.) would you be able to get a public lawyer? 6.) is it near impossible to secure your release once there?

A:

I over stayed my visa. My fault, I admit it. Ive been here for several years and since the people who reported me and then stole everything I owned upon my arrest have no doubt made a complaint against me, I cannot be released. This is the beauty of it, if you are charged with a crime you get a trial, right? You have your chance to tell your side of the story. But a complaint goes to Immigration, not through any part of the legal/judiciary system. You do NOT get to tell your side of the story without an attorney. Hard to hire an attorney when everything you own has been stolen by the people that put you here. There are public attorneys. Once a year they come here, put up a big banner, sit with a few detainees and have their pictures taken. We do not hear from them again. Various human rights groups do the same. Unfortunately Amnesty International doesnt cover "detention camps", I dont know why. I dont have any family but others do and they have limited phone access and laptop access(international law says we get unlimited access. We dont.) to contact them. We get visitors a few days a week(international law says 7 days a week. Isnt applied to us). Getting released or deported varies for every individual. Getting released requires paying bribes. Very large bribes. With no guarentee you will actually be released. We have one guy here, already spent €50k to get bail, hes "out" on bail in a criminal case. He's still here. Its a good game. Getting released if you have criminal charges against you in your own country or an influential country like the U.S. is pretty much impossible. Ive seen it done, but we're talking bribes in the €100k+ ballpark, and even then... For the rest of us getting released is a question of money. Deported may be easier. You see, they dont like to release you once youve been here, you might file charges against them. We file charges against them from inside but we arent taken to the hearings so the charges get dismissed. Another good game.


Q:

Damn. I can't imagine how it must be like.

It's really shitty that you're pretty much like one step higher from how actual criminals get treated just for overstaying.

I'm guessing the reason why they don't want anyone knowing anything is because what they're doing is borderline illegal and their abuse of authority would be put into question if people knew more about the situation.

Hope things get better. If it wouldn't be too risky, getting some evidence as to the conditions there could probably serve as a trump card in the future.

A:

We have it in spades. Doesnt make a difference. Without an Embassy to back you up, you cant get anywhere from within the system. We had a guy was locked up in solitary for months. His x-gf put him here and she told the officials he had TB, HIV, a host of diseases. They locked him in solitary as a protective measure, to keep us from getting infected. Until he payed for a medical examination which proved he didnt have any of those diseases. The first 4 days he was there they forgot to feed him. A rat bit him on the foot and he got no medical attention. This guys story was a nightmare. He joined my complaint to the Commission on Human Rights. They didnt want to touch it. His Embassy(U.S.) said "we cant get involved". He was here with no criminal charges, just a complaint from his x-girlfriend who was jealous that he found a new girl. They got him out after about half a year, thats fast. No Western embassy will touch this place. Unless you include the Israeli embassy. Their citizens dont stay here 24 hours, because their embassy informs the locals that after 24 hours the Israelis will get their citizen out and any dead bodies left behind are not their concern. I wish I was Israeli.


Q:

As an NBI (like FBI) officer said to me..."you have no rights unless we choose to give them to you".

None of the embassies get involved unless their citizen is close to death. The usual response is "we cannot interfere in judicial matters or the internal affairs of another country".

In fact...sometimes it's the embassies that keep people here. People like Art Benjamin who is dying from multiple stage 3/4 cancers and probably has less than 4 months to live. Immigration wanted to grant him bail so that he could die with dignity in his home with his wife. But the US Embassy objected as he is facing duplicate charges in the US...charges that will go nowhere as he will be dead long before he touches US soul again.

So now he's stuck in an isolation cell, dying alone with no family to comfort or help him. He's in isolation to protect him as his immune system is weakened so severely.

A:

It isn't legal. No, there is little criticism of our host country as most Western countries have agreements with them that allow them to work around the lack of an extradition treaty. In exchange for co-operation on law and order and security issues, the Western countries turn a blind eye to this place. When you complain to your embassy about your illegal detention you inevitably hear "we can't get involved".


Q:

We get them occasionally but I don't know where they come from.

A:

Umm... Right.......