“March of Freedom” Ends in Violent Arrests
After a two-day march, much of it done by foot, which culminated with a protest in front of the Knesset, 200 Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers were arrested yesterday afternoon by the immigration police, and brought back to prison,
The asylum seekers, accompanied by Israeli activists, held a demonstration near the Prime Minister’s office, and then marched to the Knesset and had another protest there. They demanded freedom and an examination of their asylum claims.
“I decided to leave on Sunday, because I realized [Holot] it’s like a prison”, said N, one of the Sudanese asylum seekers in a phone call with Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, explaining why he decided to join the march. ”There is no difference between the last prison [Saharonim] and Holot. The guards are the same guards, and they tell us we would stay there until we agree to go back to our country, and that means I will stay in prison forever”.
Around 3 PM, after 48 hours had passed from the time they left the facility, the immigration police and YASSAM officers could detain them according to the facility’s rules. The officers ordered them to go on the buses; some of them went willingly, but many others refused and were forcibly dragged into the vehicles. YASSAM officers also used disproportional force to remove the Israeli activists who tried to prevent the arrests.
According to phone calls that the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants received today, the violence towards the asylum seekers continued in the bus, and included pushing, slapping and beating. Many of the asylum seekers refused to eat and continued the hunger strike which started on Thursday, the day the transfer to Holot started. About 100 of the demonstrators were sent to Saharonim prison; the maximum punishment they can be given under the new Anti-Infiltration Law for this kind of offense is three months in Saharonim, following which they will be transferred back to Holot. The others who still haven’t reached their 48-hours limit were transferred back to Holot.