Target: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Goal: End Israel’s indefinite detention of African migrants from countries in an Israeli desert “detention center”
A group of 150 undocumented African migrants were arrested outside the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, in Jerusalem for protesting the government’s new amendment to the anti-infiltration law. The amendment allows for one year of detention without trial for asylum seekers and for the indefinite detention of asylum seekers in an “open prison facility”. Many of these migrants are Sudanese or Eritrean and are seeking asylum from conflict or human rights violations in their native countries. This law is a plain violation of human rights and international law because it denies the African migrants’ right to a trial and right to seek asylum for persecution.
The amendment is the latest response from Israeli ultra-nationalists after a Supreme Court decision in September 2013 declared a law allowing for detention without trial for three years to be unconstitutional. The ultra-nationalist movement considers the migrants “job-seeking infiltrators” who threaten the state’s Jewish social makeup.
To enable the indefinite detention of the asylum seekers to continue, Israeli authorities have created Holot, an “open” detention center which allows migrants to leave during the day. Yet, reports from inside the centers suggest the openness is a façade. One asylum seeker said that he had been kept in the detention centers for a year and a half without trial. He told France24, “Holot is locked at night, and you have to be present to sign in three times during the day. It’s in the middle of the desert, and the nearest town is an hour and a half away by car, so in practice you can’t really go anywhere.” The asylum seekers are not dangerous, they just want to live somewhere, so there is no justification for their separation.
Sign the following petition to demand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call for the indefinite detention amendment to be overturned, set trial dates if necessary for any and all undocumented migrants, decommission or move the detention center out of the Negev desert and guarantee that those who came to Israel due to persecution be granted asylum.
Dear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
It was disturbing to learn that the Knesset of Israel, a state founded by persecuted refugees, passed the new amendment to the “anti-infiltration” bill allowing for indefinite detention of asylum seekers in an open detention facility. The right to seek asylum when persecuted and the right to a trial are both guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thus, by enacting this law, Israel is unjustly violating the human rights of the African asylum seekers and international law.
In addition, the Holot detention center should not be considered “open” when the detention center is in the Negev desert and an hour and a half away from the nearest town by car. Though a detention center may be necessary for a short time, the African migrants must not be segregated from Israel.
I urge you to call for the indefinite detention amendment to be overturned, set trial dates if necessary for any and all undocumented migrants, decommission or move the detention center out of the Negev desert and into Israel, and guarantee that those who came to Israel due to persecution be granted asylum. Please bring Israel into full compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights immediately.
[Your name here]
Photo Credit: Haeferl via Wikimedia Commons