TRNN Replay: African Refugees in Israel
Just as the Hunger Strike led by Palestinian political prisoners ended last week, African refugees in Israel’s desert detention centers began their own. On Friday afternoon, nearly a thousand asylum seekers and refugees left Israel’s so-called “open prison” in the Negev Desert. Following months, and in some cases years, of imprisonment under Israel’s newly amended anti-infiltration law the refugees decided to protest the prison conditions and the very fact that while seeking asylum they were imprisoned indefinitely. After leaving the jail, the refugees headed to the border with Egypt, which they were violently stopped from reaching by the Israeli army. They then decided to camp out in a nearby grove, urging the UN to intervene and allow them passage out of Israel. But on Sunday night, massive forces of Israeli special police units removed them and transferred them back jail, where they went on hunger strike. Special thanks to journalists David Sheen, Simone Wilson, and Oren Ziv of ActiveStills.org
The latest development in the story of Israel’s scandalous treatment of African Asylum seekers was revealed last week. After denying to even examine most of the refugees’ asylum claims, deporting, and imprisoning those who stayed, Israeli authorities are now coercing them to sign on to so-called “voluntary” return as part of Israel’s arms and trade deals with several sub-saharan African nations. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky speaks to activist Tamar Aviyah, attorney Assaf Vitzan, and S. an Eritrean refugee who made his way to Israel after years in Sudanese refugee camps, only to agree to “voluntarily” leave to Uganda to avoid Israel’s massive desert prisons for asylum seekers.
David Sheen: Israel is driving African asylum seekers out of the country in record numbers
Israel is home to roughly sixty thousand African Asylum Seekers. Following last year’s deportations of those from South Sudan and the Congo, the asylum seekers who remained are nearly all from Eritrea and North Sudan. In the first part of this story, The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky interviewed Yonatan Gher, the Director of Amnesty International, Israel division and Siom Domoz, a central figure in the refugee freedom movement in Israel. Here, Domoz speaks about why refugees even come to Israel from Eritrea.