Refugees Without Refuge: Working to Make #HolotVoices Heard

Following a legal petition by flagship NIF grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and other aid organisations for African refugees in Israel, the government has announced that heating/air conditioning systems will finally be installed in the Holot detention facility.

Israel recently experienced a harsh winter storm, during which temperatures dropped to around zero degrees Celsius. Despite this, the Israel Prison Service refused to allow the 2,300 detainees held at Holot to bring in heaters, saying that they would constitute a safety risk. Asylum seeker leader Mutasim Ali said: “We welcome the installation of the heaters. But it’s regrettable that it was necessary to go all the way to the High Court to get them to see an issue as basic as heating. It’s important to remember that the heaters will help us deal with the cold at Holot, but they don’t solve the problems: human beings shouldn’t be here. Holot must be closed.”

Meanwhile, a number of NIF grantees (ACRI, Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, Physicians for Human Rights, and Assaf – Aid Organisation for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel) have launched “Voices from Holot,” a campaign which aims to give a voice to the refugees imprisoned in the Holot Detention Facility by allowing the Israeli public to share their stories. Though the Israeli public often hears about the issue of asylum-seekers in Israel, rarely do they hear the thoughts and feelings of the asylum-seekers themselves.

The campaign involves sharing quotes from asylum-seekers using the hashtag #HolotVoices.  Please feel encouraged to share the following quotes on your own social media forums to help raise awareness and get justice for the asylum seeking population in Israel:

“Voluntary return” means death for me. I will say it again and again and maybe in the end it will be heard and they will release me from jail.” – Abdel, Sudanese asylum-seeker, jailed in Holot #HolotVoices

“After my older brother died in prison in Eritrea, my younger brother and I fled. He managed to get to Europe and I got to Israel. He studied and is working and I’m in prison and I don’t know what will become of me.” – Gabrasadek, asylum-seeker from Eritrea, imprisoned in Holot #HolotVoices

“Ten years ago they attacked my village in Darfur, killed my father and brother in front of me. I fled and haven’t seen my mother or sister since. They tell us they want us to go back, but to where? To a country that wants to kill us? That burns our villages? Where are we supposed to return?” – Muhammad Ali, asylum seeker from Sudan, imprisoned in Holot #HolotVoices

Photo Credit: Ktzi’ot Prison by Wikimedia Commons Author Yosi I

January 2015