Eritrean asylum-seekers held in Israeli detention center stepping up hunger strike


Three of the 170 hunger-striking prisoners at Saharonim detention center have reportedly required medical attention; prison management preventing strikers from using telephone.

The hunger strike by Eritrean migrants at the Saharonim detention center, which began Saturday, is still underway and according to the Israel Prison Service, 170 prisoners are now refusing meals.

One of the Eritrean prisoners told Haaretz yesterday that three prisoners have required medical attention. He said the prisoners would continue their strike until the government examined their asylum applications and responded to them. The Eritrean also said that the prison management was preventing hunger strikers from using the phone. “They have no communication with the outside,” he said.

Amnesty International Israel and Hotline for Migrant Workers have received similar reports.

According to the migrant, the prison management tried to persuade the hunger-strikers to desist, but the migrant with whom Haaretz spoke said they refused. “We need freedom. We can’t stay in this situation,” he said.

The migrant said that 50 prisoners in the prison’s sections 3 and 4 who were not striking were moved to a different wing.

The Israel Prison Service said in response that hunger-strikers in one wing had agreed to accept their meals, and all 170 prisoners who are striking have had their privileges revoked, including access to a telephone. The prison service said no prisoners have been evacuated for medical attention, nor were any moved to other wings because of the strike.

Some 1,400 migrants currently detained have submitted asylum applications in recent months. About 10 days ago, during a visit to the Saharonim facility by the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, the representative of the Population and Immigration Authority, Inbal Mashash, reported that the state hasso far rejected 17 such applications, almost all from Eritreans. However, the state is not repatriating them for fear their lives would be in danger.

According to the law, if the state does not respond to an asylum-seeker’s request within nine months, the Custody Tribunal has the authority to release him or her.

In the wake of the hunger strike, Amnesty International Israel has called on the government to grant the migrants fair, efficient and transparent asylum procedures outside of prison. “The hunger strikers in Saharonim know that a return to Eritrea is a sentence of prison, persecution and in some cases death for them and their families,”, Amnesty International Israel Director Yonatan Ger said, because the Eritrean government sees all asylum requests as treason.

Human rights groups are protesting the fact that the prisoners have had their telephone privileges revoked, and say there is no precise information about their medical condition. Hotline for Migrant Workers and Physicians for Human Rights yesterday asked the Israel Prison Service for their doctors and activists to be able to enter the facility. Sigal Rozen, coordinator of public policy at the Hotline for Migrant Workers, said the Eritreans are told repeatedly that they will only go free if they agree to go back to Eritrea. “They know from the bitter experience of their friends that another jail awaits them in Eritrea, where conditions have been described by the U.S. State Department as life-threatening. In their desperation, they are hunger striking.”



Eritrean asylum-seekers held in Israeli detention center stepping up hunger strike — 38 Comments

  1. That sad part of the story is that many Eritreans do not know much about Israel. They think they can go there , get a job, and settle there till situation get’s better in their own country. There is nothing wrong in going there is such dreams had Israel been a normal country, which is not for the following reasons:

    – Israel is a country made of Jewish migrant communities who came from all over the world.
    – Israel will not allow any non-Jewish communities in the country, for whatever reason.
    – The declared strategy of Zionists is to make a nation for Jewish people in Palestine and beyond.
    – In recent years, Israel has insisted that the Palestinians recognize it as ‘Jewish State’.
    – As part of this historical as well as current policy, non-Jews are not allowed to settle.
    – Israel has plans to move around one million Arab-Israelis to West Bank in future, if possible.
    – The only non-Jewish community that seems to be exempted for a while are the ‘Druzs’.

    These are some of the reasons why Eritreans cannot be accepted there. Besides, there are a lot of other very complex issues, I don’t want go into here, that makes of Israel a country not so different from South Africa under apartheid system (for this refer to a book written by ex-US President Jimmy Carter)

      • Eritreans are suffering because they don’t know what is waiting for them once they cross into Israel. And some of you, want use such unfortunate situation, to discredit people with whom you have differences of opinion. To use a different nick-name just to throw a few nasty words, instead of facing differences with open mind is a symptom of immaturity.

    • What are you talking abut those are the must difficult Monkees to live whis , I don’t thank you now thame very well , and the hole warld hate tham dod thay are jaw .on the top of all thy are Zionist.why are trying defendant tham I bute that in to question .way to godow.

  2. In solidarity with those all Eritreans who are suffering and with who work hard to defend their rights and that of other fellow citizens or fellow human beings.

    May God rescue us all from this appalling and ever worsening problems of ours.

  3. Interesting and thought provoking comment.

    hazhaz said:
    እቲ ቀደም ቀደም ብባሃማትና ከለና፡ እዋይ ሎምስ ክንደይ ዓያሹ እንድዮም ዝደግምዎ፤ “ዓረብና ኢና፤ ቃልስና ጸረ ኣሜሪካ ጸረ እስራኤልን ጸረ ጽዮንውያንን እዩ።“ እብሃል ኔሩ። ሓሻካ ዓያሹ።
    ሎሚ ኸ፧ እዛ ኹላ ጀብሃ ሻዕብያኣ ወረ ብዓረብ እዩ እቲ ሽሞም ዘይሓፍሩ፤ ኩላ ንኣሜሪካ ብሪጣንያ ኣውስትራልያ ሽወደን ጀርመን ሃዲማ ተዓቊባ ደቃ ተዕቢ ኣላ።
    ወዮ ዓረብ ይኣስሩና፡ ይጥሩዙና፡ ኩሊትና ይሰርቁ፡ ኣሕዋትናን ደቅናን ይዕምጹ፡ ወረ ኣሸሓት ገንዘብ የኽፍሉና፡ እንተኣበና ብረሲን ሓዊ ይትኩሱና፡ ጠባቢሖም ይድርብዩና። ሓደ ዝረብሕ ውድብ ወይ ሃገር ዓረብ ከማን ኣይእወየልናን።
    ወተሃደራት ሱዳን ግብጺ ብጥይት ቶኪሶም የውድቑና፡ ኣብ ምድረበዳ ይጉሕፉና።

  4. It is sad to see our people punished and killed all over. There is no safe place for our young people in Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Latin America,Arab countries including rest of African countries. Where ever they are arrested put in Jail and treated not like human being. We Eritreans can talk but not action including myself. May God have power to my people who suffer. We can see and hear all the pain of young Eritrean everyday where ever they are but we act like we are blind. Why I do not know I guess we are ignorant. We have to educate ourself not look for only our own need. We are all brothers and sisters. We have one mother and father which is Eritrea. One blood line we can not ignor our sisters and brother pain. Why we keep doing what we doing which is helping the cause who created all this mess. It is better to have change rather not to have it. We can not assum everything will be ok because we tried for last 22 so years and not working. Let think harder for our suffering people.

  5. Some of us have always taken Israel as a great nation, now we are learning the hard way that it not like that.

  6. Mighty

    I want you to be honest with yourself ,if Isaias were to be overthrown by insiders ,the risk of Eritrea being dismantled is little to zero.
    However if isaias were to be killed by an assasin ,then in a country were there is no vice president or anybody with the fear & ¨respect¨ ,isaias posesses we are toast.i am not saying without isaias the country is toast because of luck of leadfership ,no,IT IS BECAUSE SINCE GEDLI TIMES IT HAS BEEN SET THAT ISAIAS DOES WHATEVER ISAIAS THINKS.
    Eritrean peoples character because of the example of the leaders ,cruelty ,oportunism ,lying to gain and disrespect for society is almost non excistent.who will stand while his kids are hungry and the rich showering with chivas and champagne. all people have guns.
    please in the lords name explain to us ,in a tangible and realistic way ,how you keep law and order in a country were generals hate eachother ,people resent one another ,some regions have been purposely singled out as anti eritreanism and narrow minded ,what makes you think people will suddenly sing kumbaiah my lord and everything will be fair and dundee.
    the 03 people use the tactic to keep pfdj for ever ,i say until we have a reliable force to combat the present goverment ,let us not dismantle our country ,what assurance can you give me that sudan ,Ethiopia & Egypt will not be involved when there is no rule of law. 03 were set up during gedli to keep the leadership forever ,I AM SAYING SHOW ME THE MONEY /FORCE/WEAPONS /DISTINGUISHABLE LEADERSHIP ? you just want isaias gone by magic or bullet and expect a lot of angry people to take it sitting down.Mighty ,please come back to earth we need you ,your heart is in the right place !

    • ESP,
      Now you are thinking as a very concerned citizen and that is a good thing. I can tell you one thing and that is whatever I propose will not satisfy everyone and that is normal.
      What you have said about there is no VP and its consequence is true and a huge challenge. I also know those top few general hate each other (probably themselves as well). My hope would be one reasonable person (this could be a general or a colonel, etc) could topple the government (including the generals), and ask for help to have a civilian govt. This had happened in Sudan, about 2 decades ago. After that, there are plenty of capable people to lead us.
      So, the solution should come from you you, me and others. The tough part is for all (majority) to agree that Isayas is ruining the country.
      Let’s work on a roadmap to get a solution.

  7. “My hope would be one reasonable person (this could be a general or a colonel, etc) could topple the government (including the generals), and ask for help to have a civilian govt. This had happened in Sudan, about 2 decades ago. After that, there are plenty of capable people to lead us.”


    Gen. Siwar-al-Zahab and others were coming from a well established institution that, in tumultuous times had the tradition of taking the side of the people. Eritrea has no professional Army so to speak of. Here we have a case similar to that of Libya, if not worse. The tyrant and his Generals reduced the Eritrean army into a quasi-independent units that function as Party militia.
    It’s almost impossible for anyone to get support from all such diverse groups to bring change.
    The most likely scenario is that when DIA leaves the stage, for whatever reason, the Generals will try to get someone to calm the situation, till they reach consensus on what to do next. I think their main concern will be, how to remain in control and avoid competition that can speed up their demise. I don’t think they have anything to offer politically, other than trying to maintain the system in whatever way they can, such as promising to revive EPLF/PFDJ platform and a little bit more to appear inclusive.

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