Solidarity action in front of the israeli embassy

Press release
(serbian below)

stop detentions!mala

Today, January 22nd, a spontaneous solidarity action took place in front of the Israeli embassy in Belgrade. The participants were protesting against the policies of the Israeli government towards refugees and expressed their solidarity and support with the refugee movement  in Israel.

22nd January was called out to be the worldwide day of solidarity dedicated to the recent refugee struggles in Israel. In many other cities such action took place ( Stockholm, Berlin, Paris, New York, Roma…).
Since December  11th, a new amendment allows a year in prison followed by indefinite detention without trial due to what Israel calls an “open structure” , which should be called a prison. According to this amendment loads of asylum seekers were arrested and imprisoned in the detention centers in the Negev desert. That’s why refugees, mostly from Africa, started a march for freedom followed by a three-day general strike.  The largest protests took place in Tel Aviv, when on January fifth 30 000 refugees went to the streets, demanding the fulfillment of their rights and their freedom.
The refugees demand Israel to stop its policies of imprisonment, to release all asylum seekers form prison, to recognize them as refugees and to respect their human rights. (see the letter below “To the People of Israel”)

The solidarity action in front of the embassy in Belgrade was interrupted by first by the security service of the embassy and then ended by the police. The solidarity letter addressed to the government of Israel, in which the Serbian citizens ask upon Israel to fulfill the demands of the struggling refugees, was rejected. In the same letter they expressed their solidarity with the people of Palestine and called upon Israel to stop its violent politics and occupation.

These protests are important since racist policies and limitation of freedom of movement are not only in practice in Israel, but worldwide. Participant of the action, student from Belgrade states:
“Today we have gathered here to express our solidarity with the refugees in Israel, but it’s important to highlight that refugees are facing the same problems also in other countries. They are criminalized and detained in all countries of the European Union, also in the neighboring ones such as Hungary, Bulgaria and in Serbia.”

Links of other solidarity actions and news about the protests:
https://www.facebook.com/events/245791575598080/?ref=22
http://rt.com/news/israel-african-migrants-protest-203/

in serbian:

Danas,  22. januara,  oko podneva,  spontana akcija solidarnosti je održana i u Beogradu ispred izraelske ambasade. Građani su protestovali protiv politike izraelske vlade prema izbeglicama i izrazili svoju solidarnost i podršku pokretu izbeglica u Izraelu.              Povodom dana međunarodne solidarnosti sa pokretom izbeglica u Izraelu, širom sveta su se održale slične akcije  u različitim gradovima (Štokholm, Berlin, Pariz, New York, Rim).

Zbog progona migranata u Izraelu, borba samo-oganizovanog  pokreta izbeglica je poslednjih meseci kulminirala u masovne proteste. Nova dopuna zakona (donešena 11. decembra prošle godine) dozvoljava zatvorski pritvor izbeglica na godinu dana, a pritvor može da bude produžen na neodređeno vreme, bez sudskog postupka. Izraelska vlada ove zatvore naziva objektima sa ” otvorenom strukturom”. Nakon hapšenja mnogih tražilaca azila I njihovog pritvora u zatvore pustinje Negev, izbeglice većinom iz Afrike, pokrenuli su marš za slobodu i održali su trodnevni generalni štrajk. Do sada najmasovniji protesti i manifestacije izbegličkog bunta  dogodile su se  5. januara u Tel Avivu, gradu u kojem se okupilo 30 000 izbeglica odlučno zahtevajući od vlasti  slobodu i pravdu.

Izbeglice zahtevaju da Izraelska vlada prekine njihovo zatvaranje, da oslobodi sve tražioce azila iz pritvora, da poštuje i postupa prema ljudskim pravima izbeglica. ( videti njihovo pismo “To the People of Israel” ispod teksta)

Spontana akcija solidarnosti ispred ambasade Izraela u Beogradu prekinuta je intervencijom obezbeđenja ambasade, a zatim i patrole žandarmerije. Pismo solidarnosti upućeno vladi Izraela u kojem su građani Srbije tražili  da izraelska vlada ispuni zahteve izbeglica koji već mesecima protestuju na ulicama,  odbijena je od strane ambasade.  U istom pismu građani su izrazili i svoju podršku palestinskom narodu i pozvali Izrael da prekine svoju nasilničku politiku i okupaciju.

Ovakvi protesti su bitni zbog rasističke politike i ograničavanja slobode kretanja  koji se ne vrše samo u Izraelu, već u celom svetu. Učesnica akcije, studentkinja iz Beograda  je naglasila: “Danas smo se okupili ovde, da bi izrazili solidarnost sa izbeglicama u Izraelu, ali je bitno istaknuti da se izbeglice suočavaju sa istim problemima i u drugim zemaljama.  Oni su kriminalizovani  i bivaju pritvarani u svim državama  EU kao i u susednim zemljama, npr. Mađarskoj, Bugarskoj, pa  i u Srbiji.“

Linkovi ostalih akcija solidarnosti i vesti o protestima:
https://www.facebook.com/events/245791575598080/?ref=22
http://rt.com/news/israel-african-migrants-protest-203/

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original letter:

To the People of Israel,

In the last few weeks, a range of unprecedented policy changes towards African asylum seekers and refugees have caused us to take drastic measures by striking from our work to display our discontent, frustration and fear.

About 50,000 African asylum seekers and refugees live in Israel. We have fled persecution, forced military conscription, dictatorship, civil wars and genocide. Instead of being treated as refugees by the government of Israel, we have been treated as criminals.

On December 11, 2013 the government of Israel passed a new amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration law, in response to the recent High Court of Justice (HCJ) decision that overturned previous amendments to the law. In its decision, the Court called the law “a grave and disproportionate abuse of the right to personal freedom” and against Israel’s basic laws.

The new amendments allow for one year of closed detention followed by indefinite detention without judicial review in what Israel calls an open facility and what should be called a prison, named Holot, in the Negev desert far from population centers. Individuals held in Holot are banned from working and are subjected to roll call three times each day, restricting travel outside of the immediate area. Holot is closed at night. The law gives the staff of the facility the ability to demand identification as well as to search, prevent entry, apprehend and remove individuals. If an individual breaches or is accused of intending to breach a condition of the ‘open’ facility, or is alleged to endanger the security of public peace, he can be transferred to a closed prison for 3-12 months.

Inspectors from the Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) have begun to arrest and detain hundreds of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv. In the last week of December 2013, PIBA announced its plan to require thousands of asylum seekers and refugees to register at Holot within 30 days. Despite assurances given by the Ministry of Interior that families would not be separated, tens of men with wives and children have been summoned. Panic has spread among the asylum seekers community in Israel, as immigration authorities have increasingly limited the ability to renew visas, leaving people vulnerable to losing their jobs and being arrested.

In the past two weeks, thousands of African asylum seekers and refugees took to the street in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to march for freedom, to oppose arrests, imprisonment and the disregard for refugee rights. In another appeal to the Israeli government and the international community, we are organizing a three day strike from 5 to 7 January 2014 to demonstrate our fear of imprisonment and deportation and create a pressure that will cause the government to change their inhumane policies. Instead of detaining and deporting us, Israel should be respecting our basic human rights as refugees.

We ask the Government of Israel to:
1. Cancel the new amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law; stop all arrests; and release all asylum seekers and refugees from prisons.                                                                          2. Start respecting the rights of refugees, including social rights, health and welfare benefits.
3. Check individual asylum claims in a fair and transparent way.

We kindly ask you to support us in our struggle for refugee rights. Feel free to join us over the next few days, for more details check us out on facebook: _______________.

Thank you for your understanding.

Kind Regards,
African Asylum Seekers Community in Israel

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