Celebrations erupt on the streets of south Tel Aviv as Sudan’s dictator steps down after 30 bloody years in power. Despite what appears to be a military takeover, Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel believe their revolution will win out.
By Edo Konrad and Oren Ziv
Mutasim Ali didn’t have much time to talk when we met in his south Tel Aviv office Thursday morning. The Sudanese Army had just announced that Omar al-Bashir, who has ruthlessly lead Sudan for the last 30 years, was preparing to step down, and Ali had a party to plan.
After all, for Ali and for the approximately 7,000 Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel, al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur, is the very reason they fled their homeland. Al-Bashir’s downfall feels like it could bring them closer to the day he and hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees worldwide can return to their homes.
As a university student, Ali was persecuted and imprisoned for demonstrating against the regime, prompting him to flee to Israel. His home in Darfur was burned down by pro-government militias, and his family still lives in a displaced persons’ camp.
“This is one of the most exciting days of our lives,” says Ali, who has since become a lawyer and is one of the leading activists for refugee rights in Israel, as we leave the office and head across town to meet other Sudanese asylum seeker friends.
“On the one hand, there is nothing more beautiful than watching our people rise up against this dictatorship. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel jealous that I am not out there in the streets with them,” he says, his eyes nearly welling up with tears.Read More