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Feminist Organizations in an Urgent Appeal to Minister of Interior : Stop the Deportation to Congo

A Coalition of Feminist Organizations in an Urgent Appeal to Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri: Stop the Initiative to Deport the Congolese

From a letter sent this week to Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri:

One of the worst war crimes taking place today in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the use of rape as an instrument of war: the trafficking of women for sex and forced labor as a means of torture by the country’s security forces and other warring factions. In the Congo, women, and even young girls, are the target of gender terrorism. This is the horrible reality to which the State of Israel wants Congolese asylum seekers to return.

As women, as feminists, as Israelis, we are obligated to put a halt to this. We call on you to freeze the withdrawal of group protection for the Congolese asylum seekers until conditions in the Congo improve. This is the time to stop this utterly unnecessary and disastrous deportation initiative.

The head of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, Orit Solitziano:

“I call on the Minister of Interior, Aryeh Deri, to reverse his decision to deport men and women to the Congo, known, horribly, as ‘the rape capital of the world.’ It is unthinkable that we would send women opponents of the regime back to a country known for it cruel use of rape as an instrument of war. Witness testimonies of events in the Congo leave no room for doubt. The community of Congolese asylum seekers includes a large number of women, and deporting them at this time would be, in essence, abandoning them to acts of savagery. We ask the minister to show a measure of compassion for these Congolese nationals and protect all of Israel from a terrible culpability.”

This letter was sent after the Population Authority in the Ministry of Interior decided to withdraw the policy of group protection from the Congolese community in place since 2002. About 400 men and women from the Democratic Republic of Congo fled the civil war in their homeland, escaping political and personal persecution as well as some of the worst sexual violence in the world. This is a community which has lived legally and peacefully in Israel, many of them for more than a decade. During the many years they have lived here the State of Israel has refused to review their asylum applications; yet suddenly it has demanded that these asylum seekers return to a country in a state of complete political chaos and humanitarian crises. Right now, a political storm is sweeping the Congo in wake of elections which were held while demonstrators were fired upon with live ammunition by security forces and widespread voting irregularities occurred.

Lately, an appeal was filed by human rights organizations, demanding a freeze on the decision to withdraw the group protection from citizens of the DRC.