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“Dictatorship Beyond Borders” – Report about the long arm of the Eritrean regime in Israel

During the last period, toward the May 24th Eritrean Independence Day, there were more and more threats by the Eritrean regime supporters towards those who ran away from Eritrea with the hope of finding haven in Israel, but in vain. On May 9th, 2024, after several violent clashes, M.I., one of the  Eritrean community leaders was stabbed to death by regime supporters in Hatikva neighborhood.

M.I., the refugee who was murdered, is one of those who were arrested without any legal grounds in administrative detention under the “Criminal Outline” after the Eritrean Embassy festival and the September 2nd, 2023 demonstration that ultimately canceled the festival. M.I. was released with the assistance of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants only after 18 days of false arrest. During these three weeks, his four little children didn’t know if and when their father would return home.

M.I. was arrested by the police a month after the September 2nd demonstration when leaving his house at Hatikva neighborhood to buy water bottles for his family. He was attacked by Eritrean regime supporters and was arrested in the next street. In his police interrogation, despite the poor translation, M.I. manages to explain the meaning of life under terror in a regime supporters’ neighborhood, for him and his family:

“I have children and a wife it is very difficult when I take my children to kindergarten and school day and night because they are always where I live and they look for us and it is very difficult for me and my wife and children I never attack anyone I work for my family and why would I do that”.

The report “Dictatorship Beyond Borders”, in which M.I.’s story is described (before his murder), illustrates the systematic and organized persecution carried out by the Eritrean dictatorship against its opponents, extending even to countries where they seek asylum. The report outlines the actions of the Israeli Police and the Population and Immigration Authority, highlighting their efforts to detain Eritrean refugees at all costs, often disregarding laws and procedures. Since there is no possibility of deporting them from the country, it seems like the authorities expect that refugees will succumb to the mistreatment and depart the country “voluntarily.”

The report provides a detailed account of events surrounding the arrest of numerous Eritrean refugees under the “criminal outline,” which allows for indefinite administrative detention, even in cases lacking sufficient evidence for criminal prosecution. Additionally, the report includes an appendix titled “Report of Infiltrators Involved in Crimes Transferred to the Population Authority for Custody.” This police document lists details of 53 Eritrean citizens arrested during the demonstration. However, it appears that the document was hastily compiled, as it contains errors stemming from the excessive and incorrect use of the “copy-paste” function. For instance, the designation “possessing a knife or a knuckle-duster” is listed next to the names of 18 individuals arrested during the demonstration, despite the document itself indicating that only one of them “probably had a knife.” Furthermore, 11 protesters accused in the police document of “possessing a knife or a knuckle-duster” were found to have had nothing in their possession at the time of arrest.

Not even one indictment was served against any of them.

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants put forward several recommendations, mainly to prohibit mass events organized by the Eritrean embassy, which have become hotbeds for criminal activities including violence, extortion, and threats. Additionally, it advocates for the abolishment of the criminal outline and the application of the law to all individuals suspected of committing criminal acts, irrespective of their residency status in Israel.

Read the full report.

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