Dozens of people gathered in Rothschild Boulevard on Thursday to protest the ‘voluntary’ expulsion of migrants back to North Sudan, an enemy country which has vowed to punish anyone who has set foot in Israel.
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- Where Are They Now? / A Jew Jailed in Sudan Is Now a Voice for Sudanese Prisoners in Israel
The expulsion of about 1,000 people, first exposed in Haaretz, was carried out under a shroud of secrecy. The authorities intend to repeat this with the repatriation of other migrants back to Eritrea.
The demonstrators, both human rights activists and African migrants, held signs that read “Expulsion = a death sentence”, “Life imprisonment or expulsion with lethal risks”, “The government of Israel is violating international law”, “Israel illegally making people disappear – we will not close our eyes and be silent”, and others.
Several North Sudanese migrants appeared at the demonstration and described the place they escaped from, as well as the way they were being treated in Israel. M., who escaped from Darfur, described the surreptitious actions of the state: “People are told that they are either going to jail or back to Sudan. One must understand that anyone returning from Israel will die there, and Israel knows this. I don’t understand why they are behaving this way, similar to the ways of the country we escaped from”.
M. arrived in Israel without his parents, who remained behind. A year ago, Haaretz reported that he had received word from them through the Red Cross. After responding, M. did not hear from them again.
Social activist Rami Godovitch who was at the demonstration, repeated words he heard from a Sudanese girl he had spoken to: “Israel is like a hole in the sand. You escaped from there and reached here, but once you fell in, there is no way out. I worry that instead of letting us leave for a safer place we will be returned. Back there we will be killed, which is the fate we were running away from in the first place”.
Haaretz reported this week that at least 1,000 migrants were secretly repatriated to North Sudan. This move was undertaken without the knowledge or supervision of the UN, through a third country. According to official sources, Israel paid the travel expenses.
The UN refugee agency has stated in the past that expulsion of Sudanese back to their country would constitute “an unprecedented crime”, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has demanded an Israeli explanation for the deportations.