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Eritrea asks Israel to deport “deserters”

ICC Note

Ambassador of Eritrea to Israel asked the government of Israel to deport Eritrean Asylum seekers in Israel . Such demand should never be accepted as long as Eritrea continues imprisoning, torturing and killing Christians simply because they choose to follow Christ and as long as it continues violating rights of its citizens.

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz

March 25, 2008 Eritrea/Israel (Ethiomedia)-The vast majority – about 2,800 – of the Africans who have entered Israel illegally from Egypt via Sinai are from Eritrea. Israel and Eritrea have full diplomatic relations, with embassies in Asmara and in Tel Aviv, but there is no active dialogue on the refugee issue. A few weeks ago, Eritrea ‘s ambassador to Israel even registered an official protest with the Foreign Ministry, in which he complained about Israel ‘s failure to repatriate the Eritreans. “These are not political refugees, but rather work migrants or army deserters,” the protest said.

The Eritrean ambassador, Tesfamariam Tekeste, noted yesterday in an interview with Haaretz that his letter of protest included several issues of concern to his government. First, he said, at least half of the infiltrators represent themselves as Eritrean while in fact they are from other African states, such as Sudan or Ethiopia . “They know the Eritreans automatically receive a six-month visa, so they pretend to be Eritrean,” he said.

The ambassador is infuriated by claims that repatriated Eritreans face execution. “It’s an unfounded accusation,” Tekeste said. “Many of those who come to Israel leave Eritrea legally and won’t be hurt if they return. Army deserters will be treated in accordance with the law and drafted.”

He also expressed anger about Eritrea ‘s characterization by Israeli officials as a dictatorship.

A few weeks ago, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit cited Eritrea ‘s “oppressive regime” as the reason for Israel ‘s issuing of work visas to infiltrators. The Israeli embassy in Asmara recently sent a report to Jerusalem indicating that Eritreans who were returned to their homeland “will be placed in rows and shot or thrown into torture chambers.”

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