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Eritreans demonstrate outside Rwandan Embassy against deportations

Approximately 1,000 East African asylum seekers protest ahead of expected forced removal to third countries Chanting “We are human beings!” and “Remember your history!”, more than 1,000 Eritrean asylum seekers gathered outside of the Rwandan embassy

Approximately 1,000 East African asylum seekers protest ahead of expected forced removal to third countries

Chanting “We are human beings!” and “Remember your history!”, more than 1,000 Eritrean asylum seekers gathered outside of the Rwandan embassy in Herzilya on Monday to protest planned forced deportations of African refugees to third countries said to be Uganda and Rwanda.

Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the so-called Infiltrator’s Law mandating the closure of the Holot detention facility and the forced deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers starting in March.

“We are here today to demonstrate against the arrangement between Israel and Rwanda to deport us for money,” said Halefom Sultan, a 33-year-old father of two from Eritrea who has been in Israel since 2009. “We cannot go back to Eritrea, and Israel knows this, but we should not have to go to Rwanda. Israel has the ability and responsibility to give us safety,” he said.

“They call Israel the ‘Startup Nation,’” he added. “Yes, Israel is a ‘Startup Nation’ for government-sponsored refugee trade in the 21st century.”

There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20 percent are Sudanese, and the vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012. Many live in south Tel Aviv, and some residents and activists blame them for rising crime rates and have lobbied the government for deportation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said the tens of thousands of Africans who are living in Israel illegally are not legitimate refugees or asylum seekers, but instead are economic migrants.

“They aren’t refugees,” Netanyahu told his ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “Or at least most of them aren’t.”

“Most of them are looking for jobs,” he asserted.

Sultan said he wasn’t surprised to see the large turnout of refugees in front of the Rwandan embassy. Sultan graduated with a bachelor’s in business accounting and worked as an accountant in Eritrea before fleeing in 2008, but many Eritreans, including Sultan, work minimum-wage, manual labor jobs, since they do not have legal work permits. He said the situation has made refugees depressed and terrified, so many left work in the middle of the day to demonstrate.

“We have power as a community and together we will stop the deportations,” one of the protest leaders yelled into the megaphone, leading the demonstrators in chants as they raised their arms above their head in imaginary handcuffs. “We are not poor and weak, we are strong together. We are not infiltrators. We are human beings, we are asylum seekers,” the crowd chanted in unison.

Organizers also held a mock “sale” of refugees in the style of a slave auction. Just three residents of South Tel Aviv who support the deportations showed up to counter-protest, but their voices were quickly drowned out.

“I want to tell the Israeli public they shouldn’t keep quiet, each person needs to play their part in showing compassion and humanity to helpless and vulnerable people, to give shelter to disadvantaged communities, because we have no one else,” said Sultan. Sultan said he believes Netanyahu is manipulating weak communities in Israeli society, such as Israeli residents of south Tel Aviv, in order to shore up support for his government.

“My heart goes out to the [veteran Israeli residents] of south Tel Aviv,” said Sultan. “Remember, we didn’t choose to be here, the government sent us here, by giving me a bus ticket directly to south Tel Aviv. The government denies us driver’s licenses and work permits, which means I am dependent on buses and employment agencies, both of which are in the area of the Central Bus Station, so that’s where I need to be, too. It’s not our choice to live here; we’re forced into south Tel Aviv.”

Sultan believes the slogan used by veteran Israeli residents who support the deportations, “Rehabilitation begins with deportation,” is misleading. “Even if we’re forced to go, it will still be a bad situation in south Tel Aviv. It was bad before we came.”

“The government is manipulating people about the hard life of [Israelis] in south Tel Aviv rather than improving the situation,” he added.

About 100 Israelis joined in the protest, including 10 students in a pre-army preparatory year in Jerusalem who are organizing a demonstration against deportations in Jerusalem for February 1.

“We’re really trying to raise the awareness of people in Jerusalem, because a lot of people in Jerusalem don’t feel connected to the issue at all,” said Amit Shamir, a 19-year-old participant in the Yerushalmit Mechina. “People think because it’s not in their backyard it doesn’t concern them,” said Shamir. “Because this issue is felt so much more in south Tel Aviv, they think, ‘this is their problem.’ But we need to bring awareness to Jerusalem too, because that’s where the Knesset is.”

Many of the demonstrators held signs of Eritrean refugees who were deported from Israel to Rwanda and died while trying to get to safety in another country. There are no records of refugees who have successfully stayed in Rwanda. Asylum seekers and migrants deported to Rwanda have told The Times of Israel they are placed in transports and dropped off at an international border in the middle of the night, without documents, and told to cross illegally.

Helen Kidane, the director of the Eritrean Women’s Community Center, said they think 10 to 20 Eritreans who were deported from Israel in the past years have died while looking for safety in another country. “If Rwanda is so safe like Israel says, then why don’t refugees stay there?” she asked.

Two deported migrants were killed by the Islamic State terror group in Libya, on their way to attempt a dangerous Mediterranean sea crossing to Europe.

Kidane said she was heartened by local initiatives such as the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement. Last week, Rabbis for Human Rights, led by activist Rabbi Susan Silverman, announced that they would personally hide asylum seekers facing deportation in their homes. The movement has inspired a fierce debate in Israel about whether the initiative’s use of Holocaust references and Anne Frank is appropriate or divisive.

Many demonstrators on Monday carried signs with photos of concentration camps or other Holocaust references.

“[The Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement] shows that a lot of Israeli people support us and feel the meaning of refugees,” said Kidane. “We know that this abuse doesn’t come from the people, but from the government.”

Also on Monday, three El Al pilots announced on Facebook they would refuse to fly deported asylum seekers to their destinations. German pilots used the same tactic to stop 222 planned deportations from Germany to places like Afghanistan. The act is mostly symbolic since El Al does not fly directly to Rwanda or Uganda, and deported migrants usually fly on other airlines through Ethiopia or Jordan. Netanyahu said in November he hopes to start direct flights from Tel Aviv to Kigali.


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Review overview
  • Mihret January 25, 2018

    As I am convinced Eritreanism is a BRAIN DISORDER, with symptoms of
    “Aquired Logic Deficiency Syndrome”/(ALDS).
    We humans are a mixed bag. There is good and bad in all of us and history is full of such facts.
    It is very sad to see big men like Meretse, Simon G and Haregot indulging in total pathetic comedy circus shows.
    I really don’t give a damn to the sentimentality of independence.
    When you witness the entire ‘Voluntary’ mass exodus of citizens from an ‘independent country’ to anywhere
    else including to the one you fought (for 30 yrs) against to become independent.
    We have seen countries becoming independent for worse. We’ve also seen nations merging and giving up their
    separate status for better. I don’t champion independence for the sake of it if the net benefit for citizens
    is outweighing the cost. Meretse, you don’t have to lecture us about your past adventure as no one asked or forced you to fight for them, you probably did it out of ignorance and to get out of your poverty life. If you feel you achieved your independence then good for you but you never fought to free us an already free and happy people.

    • Simon G January 26, 2018

      ኣንቲ ምሕረት ሓፍትና:
      በትሪ ጌርኪ ምበር ስብር ስብር ኣቢልክና? መአረምታ ግን: ሽመይን ሽም መረጸን: ምስ ሓረጎት ኣይትስርዕየን። በጃኺ! ኢለኪ። ብለባምክስ?
      “ናጻ ሰባት ዝነበርናስ ናጽነት ኣየምጻእክሙልናን” ዲኺ ዝበልክዮ ንመረጸ?
      እዚ ስርዓት ‘ዚ ምስ መጸ ኣይጠዓመናን ተበልኪ ሓቕኺ: ናጽነት ዘይትኣምኒ ‘ተኾንኪ ግን ካልእ ነገር ‘ዩ። ኣይፋልክን።

      • Mihret January 26, 2018

        Haw Simon G.
        What is sure is when emotions are uncontrolled such behavior becomes dominant in our discourse. In the real world we do not belittle others at will simply because we can put words on the screen. Apparently where shame is dead I believe self-restraint is also dead. You and your criminal groups brought us the Eritrean cruel and brutal regime. If/since you believe so much about freedom and independence why don’t you be man enough to start with your Meretse another revolution. Talk is just too cheap.

  • meretse January 26, 2018

    Freedom is sweet. You see at least you are allowed to bark or howl.
    Who asked u to waste time to read my comments. As soon you see may u could have ignore or bypass it. I did not force you to read it so won’t be responsible for your lack of satisfaction. Next time bypass my comments, please, please and save your energy for the worst scenario you are doom to witness [ife is full of surprises]

    • Mihret January 26, 2018

      Yes, reading is optional and I really felt sick and bored reading your arrogant, boring and dictatorial comment. Did you inherit it from your barbarian criminal ELF group and bosses?
      The archaic sense of pride and shame that informs your and the Higdefites imaginary fake world view can be seen throughout your pathetic writings.
      You remind me of a Japanese saying: “A frog (like yourself – jumping up & down to impress/fool others) in a well does not know the ocean”. You too don’t know the real world outside your circus. You should NOT be allowed to monopolize assenna or to manipulate gullible readers.
      Don’t also lecture me about howto save my energy as you are the only worst scenario.

      • Mihret January 26, 2018

        correction/addition: please read as ‘dictatorial like’ comment.

        • Simon G January 26, 2018

          People like brother Meretse are heroes of Eritrea. They were fighting for independence and justice to free people like you and me from the Ethiopian colonialists. In stead of thanking them, you are accusing them for bringing the mess what our people are witnessing. This mess is created by the cruel Dictator Isayas and his gangs. This 71 years old Tembienay never had a plan for Eritrea’s independence but he couldn’t control it any longer and we got our independence. He couldn’t accept that but he finally implemented his plan and he is decimating the country and its citizens.
          Why are you blaming the Heroes and the victims rather than the villains?
          Do you know that Meles was more Eritrean than Isayas?
          What is your main concern here?

          • Degoli January 26, 2018

            The Jebha and hgdef gangs are all the same. The same Arab Abeed slaves who are ashamed of their own Tigre Tigrinya languages to buy a cheap second hand Arab identity, as their Arab masters call them “Abeed”. These slaves are more despised by their own Arab masters more than anyone else.

          • Mihret January 26, 2018

            You put it excellently brother/sister Degoli and thank you.
            I rest my case. These delusional losers deserve each other, let them cuddle and complement each others. They are truly shameful hateful beasts stuck in their dark criminal 60s & stone age. We have to blame the Western world for giving refuge and treating like normal people these criminal beasts.

  • Asmerom January 26, 2018

    It is very sad thing to see that adult men/children like Simon G, Meretse,Danilo remaining static from growing up in the heart and brain. Eritrea’s great moral values and culture have been replaced by the mindless evil ghedli regionalist norms and morons. Will it get any worse?
    Enda evil barbaric Islamic ELF mendef are like worms and think with their murderer stomach or body as like prostitutes. One shouldn’t expect much of a clear mind and/or clean heart from murderer criminal corrupted people who treat others like hated slaves and animals.
    Worse, Enda barbaric evil Islamic ELF mendef think like parasites and can only feed on the blood and sweat of others before they die that is after or before they kill their host. We shouldn’t expect anything good to come out of the murderers criminal ELFs as their notions, emotions, actions and motions are governed by the rule of the evil savage jungle. Their lies and savagery of the past will surely send them to their hell sooner than later.

    • Simon G January 26, 2018

      Asmerom = Degoali = Haregot = Tsehaye = Alula = Mihret = Abrehet = and many more nicks = Teclay = RIFFRAFFS of Tigray
      These people have identity crisis. They can never feel comfortable in either Eritrea or Tigray. Shame on you.

      The question is, why is Assenna keep releasing these riffraffs from time to time.
      When I visit Awate, the moderators good a very good job to get rid of these kind of riffraffs. I have very respect to that website. I can’t say the same to Assenna anymore.

    • Almaz January 26, 2018

      Dogeli mehret asmerom abrehet alula (Tekhlaaaaaaaaaaaaay)
      I think your masters in the evil black rooms of the mafia regime has increased your salary but be sure what ever you go crazy with your vulgar ethno relegious and regional comments the mafia regime you arr serving will not get any credit and justice seekerd will not abbandon assenna.

  • k.tewolde January 26, 2018

    Some commentators here with sun downers syndrome need reorientation.It is 2018,ELF and EPLF had been long gone as structured organized entities,an animal called HGDEF is ruling our homeland and it is sucking the life out of us,I mean all of us.Can we all come and work together on a minimum goal today= survival. You don’t complain about your situation ten years ago while somebody is holding a gun to your head and threatening to end you life now. ‘You should NOT be allowed to monopolize assenna…’ Mihret writes,as if meretse took over swaths of land and declared imminent domain like HGDEF, it is just a dialogue box,you can write as little or as much as you like w/o encroaching on somebodies space,I wonder what got into her,she might be territorial.Let people speak their mind right or wrong,sporadically or frequently,briefly or in detail, it is something they miss in Eritrea like the desert misses the rain.

    • k.tewolde January 26, 2018

      In other words,gifted ERITREAN brothers like meretse,Simon,rezen et all must have hit some nerves for speaking their minds eloquently.Those who can debate with them tit for tat you welcome, those who can’t stand them get used to it because that’s the sneak peek of the open and democratic Eritrea where everybody has a say,even the donkey from Dirfo.

      • PH January 26, 2018

        K. tewolde, your stand towards this intruders is soft in the name of free speech and expression. since this ” respected ” commentators are higdefaits and weyenti devoted anti ELF or Eritreanism wellbeing how could be tolerated with vulgar insulting and divisive elements? Is that right? Please explain.

        • PH January 26, 2018

          Besides, those desperate refugees on subject don’t deserve

        • k.tewolde January 26, 2018

          PH,my stand is always firm against those shady elements and pesky intruders.

  • rezen January 27, 2018

    Subject: “Eritreans demonstrate outside Rwandan Embassy against deportations”
    Commentary, 28 Jan 2018 Discussion on the above specific Title seems to be over after a few commentaries. The over whelming attention is switched to the basic problem facing Eritrea. I don’t know if it is a record or not but seventy-eight (78) commentaries are already lodged with vast spectrum of opinion. I followed the discussion, irritation, anger, even hard languages with concern. The following commentary is what I feel. Following the discussion, I formed a distinct impression (feeling) that Readers are agonizing over the destiny of Eritrea. That is the common theme in all its diverse expressions. It is understandable agony. Doing so, like any other debate, the words of expressions may vastly be different and at times too strong. (1) Deep down, however, I believe (call me naïve) all of them are on the same wavelength; all caring for Eritrea. The experience that Eritreans have gone through, over a period of more than a century, is so vast and hurtful that patience and civil discourse may come in to their’ bare bones.’
    Eritreans should be excused to be angry out of deep sadness. After all, Eritreans paid horrendous sacrifice, in thirty years of war, to get their independence but only to find themselves under the cruelest indigenous Dictator – much worse than the string of colonial powers of the past. Eritrea is not only an attractive international pony but also unlucky as well. How else could one explain the struggle of Eritreans for thirty-years of war only to be betrayed by the leader of THAT SAME struggle for independence and liberty? Indeed, unlucky. Or, perhaps, as our ancestors would say in their wisdom, “MERGEM”, being at a loss for a rational explanation of irrational behaviour.

    Where do we go from here? Dear Readers: All the acrimony and exchange of nasty words we read on the Internet is because we are desperately ANXIOUS for our future. If we really want to salvage the Eritrea of ‘our dream’ we must display extraordinary tolerance to each other, patience, dedication, and farsightedness, which are the most essential factors that we should utilize on a daily basis. The attainment of Liberty, Freedom, Equality, Justice have never been cheap in Human History. Failure to recognize where our interest lies is a perfect invitation for international ‘vultures’ to pick their resultant pieces. This is NOT farfetched; and we have nobody else to blame but OURSELVES. At the risk of over sating, Eritrea is on the verge of being disintegrated into pieces.

    Permit me to sound like a broken record. I still believe we need the HELP of Eritrean Intellectuals of the Highest Educational standard, with Doctor of Philosophy Degree PhD) in various fields of endeavor. I pick Intellectuals because, I assume, they have the necessary ‘tools’ to handle the TASK. For the initial stage, it is envisaged not more than twelve (12) experts in specific fields (2) for the ‘second liberation struggle’ (this time) against one indigenous Dictator! Is this too much to ask? THE END ——————-
    (1) A little humour may be in order here. It is an old story. It happened at Piccadilly Square, London, UK. A new comer (immigrant) was visibly happy, walking and swinging his umbrella. —-British Gentleman walking behind said: Sir, be careful with that umbrella —Happy Immigrant: I am FREE and I can do anything with my umbrella. — British Gentleman: That may be so, Sir, but your FREEDOM ends where my nose begins
    Wei groom! Kumnegger mis wazza – yiblu aboHaggotatna

    (2) Example: Political Science, International Law, Constitutional Law, International Relation, Sociology, History, Economics……

  • Gura January 27, 2018

    anta dehai, are you dreaming? Arabs and their volunteer Abids have no Habo to challenge their masters.
    Dehai wrote:
    ” Will the Arab Muslim pilots of Libya, Egypt and Sudan follow the heroic Israeli pilots? Or, will the Arabs still keep on enslaving poor Eritrean refugees, stealing kidneys and dumping them in Eritrea?
    When will the Arab Muslims go in their streets to condemn the slavery of black Africans in the Arab Muslim world?”

  • Gura January 27, 2018

    Breaking News: from the Arab Streets:
    Taken from FeBu –

    When the Arabic and Islamic people heard about the slavery, abuse and beheading of thousands of African asylum seekers and migrants in Egypt-Sinai, Sudan and especially the slave market in the Arab and Muslim Libya, millions of Arab Muslims went to streets of Cairo, Tripoli, Benghazi, Alexandria, Dubai, West Bank Palestine, Khartoum, Riyadh, Kuwait City, Baghdad, Tunis …. as far as Afghanistan and Pakistan, in all Arab and Muslim lands, to condemn the slavery of Africans in Libya and the Arab world “by the Jews people of Israel”.

    They all asked – “why is Israel and the Jewish people still selling black Africans to slavery? The Arab world must take military action on Israel.”
    We, the Arabic people and their slave Abeeds are proud of our Arabic masters.

    Inshallah, may Allah bless them

  • Massawa January 28, 2018

    Read Al Jazeera today, to see how the Arabs treat Eritrean Christians. Eritreans have become the most abused and the lowest form of human being all the way from Eritrea and in the Arab Passage: are Eritreans “Arabic” people? Ask Jebha leaders?
    “At night, it used to be worse. The guards would get high on drugs and resort to beating, abuse and torture.

    There is no proper registration process for the tens of thousands of refugees arriving in Libya [Courtesy: Sami]

    Women and children were kept separate from the men. Many girls and women were raped and had children as a result of it. Our buildings were close to each other so we would hear their screams and cries.

    I stayed in detention for nine months. Once my mother secured the money, they let me go.

    Upon my release, I boarded a truck with others on the way to the sea. We were stopped by another vehicle after armed men started shooting at our truck.

    Our Libyan driver escaped and the men asked us who we were and where we were going. They took us and said we had to pay for our freedom if we wanted to be allowed to go to the sea and travel to Europe.

    Sold and resold

    They asked us for money in exchange for freedom. When they inquired about my religion I lied to them that I was a Muslim, hoping they would treat me better.

    I was lucky because they asked me for less money, which I was able to secure eventually.

    I spent two months there, in a town called Az Zawiya.

    There were women and children in the same container as the men, children as young as two years, and there were infants born as a result of rape by the Libyan captors.
    Sami, 18-year-old Eritrean refugee

    We were held in an apartment building complex from where we were not allowed to go out. After paying the ransom, they took me from Az Zawiya to the sea. But we were stopped by Libyan coast guards, who took us to Tripoli.

    In Tripoli, they demanded 1,000 euros ($1,225) in order for a person to be released.

    Then the coast guards sold us to an Eritrean smuggler who goes by the name Walid. He is notorious and runs a smuggling network with Libyans and others. His real name is Tawalde but the Libyans call him Walid. He is responsible for the torture and killing of many. …”