Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

African refugees in Israel march against criminalization

Tel Aviv. Thousands of African migrants have been protesting since the end of 2013 against the policy of arrests those who ask for recognition of their refugee status in Israel. (AP Photo)

Thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers have protested against the lack of recognition of their status in Israel in recent days, revealing severe conditions of violation of human rights, such as in large prison camps in the open air. Sunday (5) a three-day strike was called and thousands were marching toward several embassies in Tel Aviv on the morning of Monday (6) .

Many African immigrants demand the recognition of their refugee status in Israel, and the release of prisoners who are denouncing the repressive and xenophobic policy of the Israeli government. In front of the embassies of the USA, Germany, France, the UK and Canada , among others, in Tel Aviv, last Monday, immigrants ask for pressure on Israel for the protection of their human rights.

According to the electronic and independent magazine in Israel, +972, about 20,000 asylum seekers were demonstrating in the seaside town on Sunday. Moreover, the protesters also marched to the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), with posters calling for an end to arrests of immigrants, many of whom are domestic or heavy duty workers, who called the three-day strike, from Sunday.

The Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, playing the xenophobic discourse also found in Europe, said the strike did not "define the national policy of Israel", but that the concern is with "the Israelis who have lost their jobs," making reference to "cleanup crews" of restaurants and cafes affected by the protest.

Like many other political and biased movements that have mobilized against African immigration in the country, Sa'ar called the protesters "African infiltrators". As an example of the exponents of Israeli racism, such as the parliament member Miri Regev, in a demonstration called them "cancer in our bodies."
In protest last Sunday, more than 20,000 immigrants shouted slogans such as "Yes to freedom, not to prison," and "we are refugees, not criminals," according to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz.

The organizers are asking for the repeal of the law authorizing the detention of African immigrants in a newly built facility, Holot, as well as the release of prisoners, urging Israel to comply with the UN Convention on the protection of refugees.

The UNHCR criticized Israeli policies against African immigration, especially the new amendments to the so-called "anti - infiltration law." According to the agency, in a press release issued in recent days , the new Israeli laws and policies do not correspond to the spirit of the Refugee Convention of 1951. Before that, the UNHCR had also taken its complaint to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Davit, an immigrant from Eritrea, told Ha'aretz on Sunday: "We will continue this fight until the State of Israel hears our voice and understands that we are people and refugees. We are here today to continue our march for freedom, initiated by our brothers. We are continuing to march because they are back in prison. They came to Israel as refugees seeking asylum, but rather than evaluating their request, Israel tells them that they, and we, are criminals. "
Moara Crivelente ,