Migrants from Africa waiting on line in Tel Aviv to register as asylum seekers Photo by Ilan Assayag, Haaretz Migrants from Africa waiting on line in Tel Aviv to register as asylum seekers Photo by Ilan Assayag, Haaretz

Asylum seeker sit-in, Lampedusa and who gets the blame?

By Merhawi Yemane

This week I had an online conversation with an Eritrean asylum seeker in Israel. He told me that Israel had changed the visa requirements for refugees, which I could not get confirmed from official sources yet, but I believe him.

However, what I could make out was that the refugees have to renew their visa permits more frequently than before, which increases the risk that they forget to do so. You ask why?

Because speaking about frequency, I mean each month and not quarterly or yearly. Immigrants know that once they do not prolong their immigration status, it will turn from legal to illegal automatically without a second chance to extend. This means missing to renew the visa will sent them straight to jail or any other detention center such as Holot. Whereas, Israeli immigration appears to have no problem prolonging stay permits of western tourist overstaying their visas.

That’s a good way to reduce the number of “free range” refugees demonstrating on the streets. While more and more refugees stay away from the protests fearing they will be soon summoned to Holot or lose their workplace.

Meanwhile, the news that an Eritrean asylum seeker was beaten up by an Israeli fascist, like German Nazis did with minorities in the Third Reich, came less than four weeks after a one-and-a-half-year-old Eritrean baby was badly wounded in the attack with scissors.

It’s pretty ironic that Israel just moved to ban the word ‘Nazi’ and other references to the Third Reich other than for education purposes, given the increase of racially motivated attacks against immigrants. Amazing, this means we are stripped of our right to label racists “Nazi”.

This takes me to the responsibility of the Eritrean government who watches at the sideline like a divorcing father in denial of what is happening to his marriage, children and family. Only the non-organized and non-institutionalized outcry of individuals like you and me can be heard. No wonder, that practically the entire world, and I mean the entire world has told the Eritrean Government that it is failing human rights. This was during the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva – also this week.

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Wake up Asmara and take responsibility for what is happening in Lampedusa, Sinai, Israel and Eritrea.

The curve of awakening takes an exponential shape among Eritreans with each arriving boat, because freedom counts more  than a golden tooth.

Even today, the news is breaking that the Italian naval forces have rescued hundreds of African boat refugees in two separate rescue operations in the last 24 hours near Lampedusa, Sicily and other islands off the coast of southern Italy. Lets hope that no Eritrean is among the refugees.

Since renewed protests were launched in Israel on Sunday, demonstrations have entered the fifth day today as 1,000 Africans staged a sit-in strike at south Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park.

And what are we doing to help them to change their fate?

By Editorial Team

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