The Singapore activist scheduled to visit Bibby Stockholm ‘prefers to perish on the streets’ instead.

A lawyer and opposition politician, Yao Hui Charles Yeo, has expressed concerns for his health following the recent death on a barge. He has been warned that he may be relocated to the Bibby Stockholm barge, but he has stated that he would rather die on the streets than go there.

Yao Hui Charles Yeo, 33, sought asylum in the UK after facing persecution and imprisonment in his home country of Singapore. He has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and a degenerative disc condition, which causes significant back pain. Additionally, he has experienced trauma from a previous near drowning incident.

Yeo’s name appears on a list of at-risk human rights activists and lawyers defending death row inmates compiled by various UN rapporteurs.

His lawyer, Naga Kandiah of MTC Solicitors, has provided medical evidence to the Home Office arguing that due to his physical and mental vulnerabilities, Yeo is not suitable to be accommodated on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset.

The Home Office initially scheduled his transfer to the barge for 6 December, but in a message on Tuesday, they informed him that they are still deciding whether to proceed with the move.

“If suitability is maintained, you will be provided with a new travel date to Bibby Stockholm,” the message states. Yeo remains fearful of being imminently transferred to the barge.

In relation to the new Rwanda bill, there is a high threshold for individual appeals against sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. Lawyers representing asylum seekers have indicated that a similar high standard is applied to those claiming unsuitability for the Bibby Stockholm barge due to mental or physical health issues.

Kandiah stated, “We are appalled by the government’s approach, implementing these impractical and inhumane measures which target some of the most vulnerable people in society. Our client is medically unsuitable for confinement on a barge and has submitted compelling evidence to the Home Office in support of his claim.”

On Tuesday, Yeo shared his concerns with the Guardian, saying, “After hearing about the reported suicide on the Bibby Stockholm barge earlier today, I am very scared to go there. I feel very traumatized after hearing about this death. I feel it’s unsafe to house asylum seekers on a barge like this one. It is very overcrowded, and it is difficult for people who have survived torture to live together in these conditions.”

He added that the threat of being sent to the barge is exacerbating his mental health issues, particularly due to his previous experiences in a Singapore prison.

“I am so traumatized by my near drowning experience I am unable to speak about it. My UK doctor has written to the Home Office to say the barge is not a suitable place for me due to my Asperger’s, my back problem, and my near drowning experience. When I got the letter telling me I was going to the barge, I panicked. I would rather die on the street than go to the barge,” Yeo said.

A spokesperson from the Home Office stated, “All asylum seekers are screened to protect vulnerable individuals and ensure they are placed in suitable accommodation. They have access to health and social care services, including support for mental health, from point of arrival in the UK and will continue to while housed in asylum accommodation. It is longstanding government policy that we do not comment on individual cases.”

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