Members of the Tama Sudanese community were present at a large demonstration in Jerusalem against the deportation of asylum seekers from Israel.
About 300 people, mostly Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers, as well as Israeli and international allies, protested in front of the Israeli Supreme Court. The protest was against detention in Holot, as well as deporting asylum seekers to other African countries.
Israel does not formally deport asylum seekers as this is against its laws. However, the government does everything in its power to make African refugees miserable to convince them to leave to ‘third African countries,’ namely Rwanda and Uganda. They offer large sums of money for ‘voluntary return.’ Every Holot inmate is told about how great their lives could be if they returned to Africa. On the 5th of January, a new law passed, stating that 20% of the salaries of all asylum seekers will be taken by the state and put into a fund that they can only access if they choose to ‘voluntarily return’ to a 3rd African country.
The protestors addressed a letter to Supreme Court justices, highlighting the tragic fates of many asylum seekers who chose the ‘third country’ policy:
“Asylum seekers who left Israel were imprisoned or arrested on their arrival. Some of them lost their lives and fell into the hands of Islamic State, and others lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea.
“Even when they seemingly receive a visa to Rwanda, it is not a genuine visa, only a temporary tourist visa – and from there they are forced to be smuggled to Uganda.”