|African migrant rally for asylum in Tel Aviv..(Photo by: Ben Hartman)|
African migrants vow to continue strike
By BEN HARTMAN
Asylum seekers say they have nothing to lose; nationwide strike to be extended until Israeli gov't meets demands of protesters, say migrants.
African migrants on Tuesday promised to stay away from work until the government
meets their demands over its policy toward asylum-seekers, on the third day of a
The decision was announced at a press conference held
near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station in the mid-afternoon.
earlier, thousands of Africans gathered in the nearby Lewinsky Park, where a
series of speakers took to the stage to brainstorm how to take the protest
forward and keep up the momentum of the past few days.
from Darfur named Jacky held up a picture of an Eritrean baby whom an Israeli
man stabbed on Friday night, and said, “She is all of ours’ [sic] child, she is
the child of all of Africa.
“We do not want to kill any Israeli, but we
will protect ourselves and we will die for this,” Jacky said.
rally, protesters announced that they planned to march to Jerusalem, and if not
given a permit to march, they would camp out in Lewinsky indefinitely.
night fell, it was announced that they had not received a permit to hold a
protest from police.
Contacted by phone, Jacky said protest leaders had
decided to send a few hundred asylum-seekers to Jerusalem by bus on Wednesday
morning, where they would hand a letter with their demands to MKs outside the
Knesset. Their demands include an end to the jailing of illegal migrants and for
Israel to check all requests for asylum.
Tuesday’s demonstration came a
day after several thousands migrants protested outside foreign embassies and the
UN’s High Commission for Refugees headquarters in Tel Aviv, demanding their
intervention, and two days after a rally brought more than 15,000 migrants to
the city’s Rabin Square.
Eritrean Emmanuel Yamane told reporters at
Tuesday’s press conference that the situation for migrants has become
significantly worse of late, as the government has stopped renewing visas and
has stepped up the arrests of asylum- seekers.
“The government is pushing
us and making us crazy and not looking at us like human beings. They believe if
it gets harder and harder for us, we will go back willingly.
government of Israel wants the people to be afraid of us and not see us as human
beings, but we tell you, don’t fear us,” Yamane said.
“We are sick of the
incitement against us by the government, the ministers – we feel it in the
streets, the bus, the neighborhoods,” he said.
Hassan Didan told the press, “We are asking that the State of Israel treat us
humanely, and [we] will present our requests to the UN. Israel isn’t alone in
this matter; there are many places in the world and many other refugees in the
Mutasim Ali, an asylum- seeker from Darfur, said the protest
movement was inspired by the detainees who marched from the Holot open detention
facility in the Negev to Jerusalem last month, and that Israelis “need to
understand that we have nothing left to lose; Israel’s choice gives us the
answer that there is no other choice.
They give us a terrible choice: go
to prison or go home.”
The words of protest came after Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said the demonstrations
and strikes would not stop the government from carrying out its immigration
The Prisons Service confirmed that 130 detainees at the
Saharonim detention in the Negev had been on a hunger strike for the past two
The service said that as of Monday night, the detainees were
sending back their meals, adding that according to protocol it is only a hunger
strike after someone sends back six meals.