Israeli Activist Accuses Interior Minister of Int’l Law Violations
The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky follows Israeli activist Tamar Aviyah to the home of Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar to deliver a message. Sa’ar has personally spearheaded Israel’s aggressive policy against African asylum seekers deporting most and imprisoning thousands. As The Real News previously reported, Israel recently began coercing refugees to leave to third countries, such as Uganda and Rwanda as part of trade and arms deals with those countries. Sadik, a Sudanese refugee from Darfur was one of thousands in recent months to agree to leave Israel to Uganda. When he boarded his transit flight through Ethiopia he learned that he was being sent to Sudan instead, a country he fled because of the genocide against his national minority of Darfur. He refused to continue to Khartoum from Adis Ababa and after eight days in the Ethiopian airport was forced to board a flight back to Israel where he was immediately jailed.
LIA TARACHANSKY, TRNN PRODUCER: On Friday, March 8, Tamar Aviyah, who’s an Israeli activist who volunteers with African asylum-seekers, went to the home of Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar to deliver a message. As minister of the interior, Sa’ar has pursued aggressive policies against refugees, deporting most and imprisoning thousands.
GIDEON SA’AR, ISRAELI INTERIOR MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): If we treat this like liberals, we’ll lose the country. We’ll lose the only Jewish state.
SA’AR: Today we know that they’re leaving, they’re leaving, and none are entering. But Zahava Gal-On (Meretz Party) said that 50,000 don’t threaten the Jewish majority. They don’t threaten the state’s character. You know more will come. But you want a state of infiltrators.
TARACHANSKY: Recently, the Ministry of Interior began coercing refugees to fly to third countries with which Israel has trade and arms deals. As The Real News previously reported, many refugees agreed to be sent to Uganda and Rwanda in order to avoid indefinite imprisonment in Israel.
Sadik is one such refugee, who fled Darfur region in Sudan to come to Israel. He agreed to leave back to Uganda, but during his transfer flight in Ethiopia discovered Israel was sending him back to Sudan against international law. He refused to board the plane, and after remaining in Addis Ababa Airport for eight days was forced by Ethiopian officials to fly back to Israel. He’s currently jailed at Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv.
TAMAR AVIYAH, ISRAELI ACTIVIST: Hello, Gideon Sa’ar. Hello, hello, Gideon Sa’ar. Sadik al Sadik is a Sudanese refugee from Darfur. In Darfur he survived genocide. Pro-government militias came and burnt down his village. People were killed and the women raped. He struggled to escape and made his way to Israel. Eight days ago, Gideon Sa’ar, you sent him to Sudan. You lied to him and told him he’s going to Uganda. But Sadik al Sadik was sent to Ethiopia, and the authorities tried to send him to Sudan.
Gideon Sa’ar, you are personally responsible. Under the leadership of [PM] Benjamin Netanyahu, for a clear violation of international law, which is worse than violating the Convention on Refugee Rights.
He stayed there for eight days, refusing to return to Israel, because here awaits him imprisonment without trial or release date, indefinite imprisonment in Holot jail. He refused to return to Sudan, because there he’ll be killed because he’s a Darfurian, a minority persecuted for decades. Sadik al Sadik is not alone. There are dozens, if not hundreds, like him. They agreed to leave because they’re in despair here. They’re in despair and they have nowhere to go.
UNIDENTIFIED: You’re bothering me.
AVIYAH: You are sending refugees to Sudan against the regulations forbidding refugee return. Sadik’s is only a small part of a bigger story. In the past four months, you returned half the Sudanese refugees in Israel, 4,000 out of 8,000 people. Most were returned to Khartoum [Sudan], and others to third countries where you sign arms deals. The UN Agency for Refugees knows but turns a blind eye. Anywhere else in the world, they’d be recognized as refugees. The rates of recognition are 70 percent worldwide; in Israel, zero. You will stand accused alongside [Sudanese president] Omar al-Bashir and the rest of the scum in your government that does everything in the name of the Jewish state.
UNIDENTIFIED: You get the hell out of this neighborhood.
UNIDENTIFIED: You can’t make noise like this. You can request a meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED: Genocide versus noise? Come on.
UNIDENTIFIED: Not like this. You’re only creating antagonism.
TARACHANSKY: For The Real News, I’m Lia Tarachansky in Tel Aviv.
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