Thousands of asylum seekers streamed out of Holot detention center in Israel’s south on Friday, with no intention to return. The walk-out is the latest in a series of actions by the prisoners to bring attention to their plight.
The asylum seekers attempted to march to the border with Egypt, where they hoped to camp out and bring international attention to their struggle, but were stopped by the Israeli army before reaching the demilitarized area.
According to the Holot Project Facebook group, the marchers have produced a list with the following demands:
- An immediate reform to the medical system.
- The immediate release of detainees who have been in prisons over two years, the victims of torture from Sinai and all the prisoners in Saharonim and Holot with legal status according to international standards.
- To hand over the case to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
- To release African asylum seekers arrested by the immigration police in Holot, who are suspected to be behind the demonstrations.
In December 2013 Israel began populating the Holot detention facility for African asylum seekers, first with those who were held in other prisons and gradually with those who were until now living in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.
The detainees at Holot are being held there without charge until they can be deported or such a time as their asylum claims are processed, which for many detainees means indefinitely.
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(Photos: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org, text: Edo Konrad)
The asylum seekers are overwhelmingly Eritrean and Sudanese.