WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! It's yer opening soon on Broadway ...
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An International Solidarity Day of Action for African asylum seekers in Israel took place yesterday. Along with a massive demo outside the Israel parliament buildings in Tel Aviv, Israeli embassies across the globe were targetted with protests.
Refugees are protesting against Israel's policies, which includes indefinite detention without claims being heard, and the racist rhetoric of the government who refer to refugees as 'infiltrators' and 'cancer'. Street violence against black Africans is on the rise, while tens of thousands of people were rounded up and detained in the last weeks of December. Despite hailing from some of the most brutal, dangerous and repressive states in the world, Israel has granted refugee status to only a few of the hundreds of cases it has bothered to review. The rest have had no chance to be heard.
The International Solidarity Day came after a month of mass rallies and strikes by refugees in Israel, who are mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, which saw many hospitality businesses close up without their staff for three days. On the first day of the strike, over 20,000 refugees marched to Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. Hundreds of detained refugees are on hunger strike in detention.
Israel has been building a wall on it's border with Egypt to attempt to stop refugees from entering. The border had been porous with around 60,000 Africans travelling into Israel since 2006. The government hoped the wall would bring the number of undocumented people entering from Egypt down to zero, but it hasn't yet. Ten kilometres remain to be built of a total 240 km, in a construction which has so far used 50,000 tonnes of iron. Who needs humanity and/or diplomacy when you can just build a massive f*ck-off wall.
Those who scale the fence are arrested by Israeli Defence Forces and face at least three years locked up in a detention centre due to Israel's draconian laws on illegal entry. For those already in the country, last month's Prevention of Infiltration Law allows for indefinite detention of foreigners, many of whom will be sent to the new detention facility built in the Negev desert.
The news isn't all bad though: SchNEWS caught up with a NoBorders activist in London who described the UK demo as 'f**king brilliant'. Why? 'The thing was that so many groups who don't normally do things together all came together to protest against the racism. There were representatives from the Black African Womens' Group, Palestine solidarity groups, the Eritrean community, NoBorders, and loads more.' The protests had been organised online, which proved an effective way for groups to link and communicate.
The protest kicked off outside the Israeli Embassy at about 4pm and for the next couple of hours the 100-strong crowd made a racket playing music, chanting and taking turns on the megaphone where speeches were made by demonstrators from an array of countries and backgrounds.
Check out the page on Facebook for pics of protests worldwide, and their 'About' page for background on their demands: 'Freedom4Refugees in Israel- International Solidarity'
For an idea of the Israeli government's racism, see this David Sheen film, 'Israel's New Racism: the Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPxv4Aff3IA
“We suspect that the shift of the Israei public to the right and the birth of these fascist gangs is not spontaneous, but is a result of decades of incitement by the government. This incitement escalated quickly, and now Israeli Jews who criticize their government are attacked as well. This violence is also supported by the police. I can’t say right now what is going on and where we are headed to, but things aren’t pretty here.” David - Israeli activist
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