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Israel: Refugee Marches for Freedom and Mass Demonstrations

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Indeed, we are going through some intensive days… the trigger that started all this is the amendments of the anti infiltration bill (adopted by the government in respond to the supreme court ruling in September 2013) changing the policy from detaining the asylum seekers in prison to detaining them in an “open facility”. the open facility has no fences but just like the prison – it’s run by the prison authorities, its placed in the desert 60 KM from the nearest city and asylum seekers are required to report three times a day for a headcount. the day after the open facility was open, the refugees started marching to Jerusalem in a protest for their arrest. They were brutally arrested and punished – returned to the “real” prison without their gear nor blankets and – – it’s COLD in the desert…
After those protests  (2 of them) the Israeli policy became even harsher – limiting the possibilities of asylum seekers to renew their visas – minimizing working hours, sending them to only 4 offices (up to now they could go to any MOI office in their city) ambushing them while they are lining up for the renewal – arresting all, then, at the facility checking if they have valid documents – if yes – they were released, if no – they were arrested. They did it also in the streets – terrorizing families and kids, people were disappearing, afraid to leave home etc….  (all happened during the week of the Catholic Christmas)
They started protesting on Saturday nights (twice) supporting their friends in detention and this went wild – running in the streets of tel Aviv chanting – “freedom, no more prison…. ” They could no longer stand it and decided to go on a three day strike  – not going to work (not cleaning the restaurants, hotels etc..) leading to this amazing and exciting protests on Sunday in Tel Aviv, supported  by less visible protests in the periphery. it’s amazing, its the first time we see them organized like that.
The activists are from Darfur and Eritrea, after years of separation they are united, all by their own initiatives, supported by the organization to carry out their decision. We are helping with the media work, and organizing today’s protest in Jerusalem, where they will call the prime Minister and Minister for interior affair to start a dialogue with them.
It’s also amazing to see the support they get from the Israeli employers <http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.567383>… We feel like we’re lining through history – those are defining days in the relations between Israel and the asylum seekers. it’s truly exciting.

this information comes from Merav Bat-Gil from Assaf organisation: http://www.assaf.org.il/en/

more information on aljazeera

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