Human Rights Organizations appeal to stop the deportation of refugees to Congo

The following is provided by the Hotline for Human Rights in Israel and edited for use here:

“Security forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are brutally repressing demonstrations by firing live ammunition at civilians. The regime has refused to allow international observers access to the general elections which have already been delayed three times since 2016.

The Congo is under the iron fist of the dictator Joseph Kabila. Under his authority mass arrests of political opponents, false accusations against the political opposition, executions without trial and torture are routinely carried out by the security forces. Demonstrations against election delays are violently repressed and millions of people are being denied the right to vote since the elections were postponed. They are marching in protest in a number of districts. There are millions of displaced persons and refugees that have been forced to flee the DRC to neighboring countries, and sexual attacks and rape are used as an instrument of war by all the warring factions.

In light of the above, the decision by the government of the State of Israel to withdraw the group protection from the Congolese community in Israel is unreasonable in the extreme and represents a blatant disregard for human life. Israel plans to deport the Congolese whose asylum applications, according to the Hotline, have never been reviewed by the Ministry of Interior.

Over the past two decades, a few hundred asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution in the DRC have come to Israel. Immediately upon their arrival most filed requests for political asylum, but the Ministry of Interior affairs has never reviewed them. Nevertheless, to Israel’s credit, for more than 15 years Israel has carried out a policy of group protection for the Congolese who reside in Israel legally and have been given the chance to rebuild their lives.

However, on November 7, 2018 without any change in conditions in the DRC, the Ministry of Interior placed a notice on its website that it intends to withdraw group protection from the Congolese community. The decision was based on a secret assessment drawn up by the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs that they deliberately kept from the public and which stands in contradiction to reports from reliable sources and by the international press that conditions remain dire in the Congo. Nothing there has changed.

Israeli and other human rights organizations (e.g. Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, HIAS, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel,  African Refugee Development Center, and ASSAF – Organization for Refugee Aid) appealed to the District Court of Jerusalem to cancel the withdrawal of group protection for citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo and to instruct the Ministry of Interior to either repeal its decision or freeze it until an in-depth analysis of the situation in the DRC has been made and significant changes in the security and humanitarian conditions have taken place. These human rights organizations demanded the publication of the assessment upon which the Interior and Foreign Ministries based its decision.

The Hotline for Refugees is calling upon Israel’s Ministry of Interior to come before the court and explain its decision to force the asylum seekers, who fear for their lives, to return to the DRC while the situation is still so precarious.”

If you wish more information, contact Shira Abbo of the Hotline for Immigrant Rights in Tel Aviv at shira@hotline.org.il.

About the Author
A native of Los Angeles, Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed the position of Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in 1988 and will become Emeritus Rabbi in July, 2019. Before coming to Temple Israel he served large congregations in San Francisco (1979-86) and Washington, D.C. (1986-88). He is the immediate past National Chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and served on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the Vaad HaPoel of the World Zionist Organization, and the Executive Committee of ARZENU (the International Reform Zionist movement). He was a former national co-Chair of the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street. John is the author of "Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (Nashville: Jewish Lights, 2017). John is married to Barbara and is the father of two sons, Daniel (married to Marina) and David, and the grandfather of Violet.
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