Eritreans: ‘Voluntary deportations’ from Israel cross red line

At first official press conference of Eritrean community in south Tel Aviv, spokesmen call on Israeli government to stop deportations. Representatives of the Eritrean community in Israel on Sunday accused Israel of crossing a “red line” after the so-called “voluntary deportation” of 14 Eritreans two weeks ago and their only alternative to deportation was to stay imprisoned indefinitely under the anti-infiltration law. They were sent back to their homeland from the Saharonim detention facility, where they had been detained. One of the expelled men has reportedly been tortured since arriving back in.

During the press conference, they handed out a letter they penned to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday, in which they refuted the view that the returns signed by prisoners in Israeli detention centers are voluntary, saying “despite the fact that they have chosen to call it ‘voluntary return,’ when they have no choice about their return, [that] means it is not voluntary.” “Our friends were deported to the place they fled, and their agreement was secured through extortion,” the letter continued. “Because of the exploitation of their situation at the hands of the government, their lives are in danger.”

Activists from the Eritrean community in Israel hold a press conference in Tel Aviv on July 28, 2013. The speakers exposed the journalists to hard situation people face in Eritrea and protested the latest deportation of 14 Eritrean from Israel (Photo: Activestills)

“It is important to us to emphasize that we didn’t come here in order to bother Israelis or destroy their homes,” the letter read. “We didn’t come here to look for work or money. In every place on Earth they recognize the fact that people who flee Eritrea need protection until the regime changes and they can return home.”