Do you have some time to write about your experience of spending 2 months in the Taipei Detention Center? We’d like to publish this on The Wild East, as it really concerns a lot of people, especially foreigners in Taiwan.
Hi. Yes, sure, no biggie. I myself am writing a book about it and the ‘hole’ story, so I would like to share my experience with you. It does concern a lot of people, and I hope things improve in Taiwan in the future, because right now, my only opinion is that the Taiwanese laws are a bunch of horseshit. I ‘m not saying I shouldn’t have been deported, because I did overstay my visa for more than 2 years, but I’m kinda angry because I wasn’t deported faster and because of some other things that happened while I was inside the detention center.
In my opinion, if a person is caught overstaying visa there should be only payment, punishment and immediate deportation — not ‘doing time’ the same as hookers, physical abusers, drug dealers and people with no documents whatsoever. I guess in Taiwan everybody falls in the same basket, okay, maybe some do a bit more time than others, but everybody is treated exactly the same behind bars.
So after I was prosecuted (N— must have told you why I was taken to the police station in the first place) and my only legal offence was an overstayed visa, I was cuffed, and taken to the immigration agency in Banciao. The police officers saw I had nothing but my bag with me, no food, no clean clothes, no water, no money. They bought me a sandwich and a bottle of water, two pairs of disposable underwear and socks and allowed me to smoke one more cigarette before turning me in to the immigration authorities. I smoked my cigarette and said, “I’m ready”.
We entered the Banciao immigration office. One guy took my passport, glanced at it and said with gloating smile, “Ahhh. Ha ha ha.” There was a conversation about my “bad, bad country” and then he told me I had to put my fingerprints on some documents. They were all in Chinese, and I didn’t understand the characters. I put my thumb on the paper, that evil red ink… I’ll never forget that feeling… I saw a date on the paper: December 20th to February 19th.
He looked at me and told me to follow him, telling me to take care of the document very well and try not to lose it. I followed him and then I saw “it” — The Cage. It was a room filled with sleeping bags, clothes and underwear hanging everywhere, toilet/shower area inside that caged room and women sleeping on the floor inside. He ordered me to take of my shoes, leave them in one small box and told me to get inside and sleep.
I will never forget the sound of the cold metal door when it closed behind me.
I was tired, dirty, thirsty and so helpless… I couldn’t help it but yelling “Sir, sir… how long will I stay here? Please, come back… helloooo…” He didn’t even look back at me. He left.
The room was about 2-3m-square wide and long. There were three walls and one metal door… I couldn’t cry because I was in shock… I was feeling like a caged animal.
The women inside were nice to me. They offered me a sleeping bag and each one told me to come and rest next to her. Most of them were Indonesian or Philippine maids. I was just staring and shaking my head in disbelief. This was the way I was going to spend Christmas Eve and all the holidays… N— was gone, my dog was gone, all my friends. My life turned into a complete hell just in 24 hours. Everything seemed surreal.
I saw a girl (Nancy) that was crying. She was Thai. We looked at each other and I knew we felt exactly the same, hopeless.
My biggest problem was I am afraid of small, closed places and I felt like I just want to crawl out of my skin. I curled up inside one sleeping bag and just wanted to die. I had no idea what would happen next, how long, my mind was racing… I squeezed my ‘pillow’ — more like a pancake like little thing — and I repeated over and over in my head, “sleep, try to sleep.”
You must sleep and when you wake up, all this is going to be a bad dream… You’ll wake up next to N—, you’ll be home, your head won’t hurt; you’ll be able to go out… sleep…”
I woke up… women were chatting and having a ‘great time’ laughing, joking with the guys next to us (there was a cage for the men too). They were washing their clothes in one bucket, singing, taking turns in the ‘shower’, ordering food to the guard next to the door (he had his computer desk and stayed there at all times).
It was probably the worst day of my entire life. I realised I was stuck, I didn’t know how long was I out, there was no clock, no calendar, no light. One day turned into two, then three. I still hadn’t eaten anything; I washed myself with one tiny scooping plastic dish. And I stood there… naked, finally crying. One of the women came to me, she gave me her hand, looked at me and told me “You are going to be better tomorrow. Here, take these clothes, they are clean, take… eat, this… Don’t say no. eat…” She smiled at me like an older sister would do and touched my face. “No tears, beautiful foreigner… You’re a nice girl… come, come with me…”
I was finally wearing something clean, ate just a bite or two, and got a hug. Things were a bit better. The metal door opened and bunch of police officers started making a lot of noise, lining us up, yelling, panicking.
We were going to another place. We were about to go to Sanxia, the detention center where I’d spend almost 2 months. We all got cuffed again, in pairs, two girls each. We were rushed into big vans and driven to the next location.
They warned us this place was going to be bigger, louder, stricter, crowded…
To be continued: Part 2