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Live blog: Global protests against Israeli plans to deport refugees

Protests are expected outside Rwandan embassies around the world Wednesday as Israel moves forward with its plan to deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers, most of whom fled Eritrea and Sudan.

By +972 Magazine Staff

Asylum seekers protest outside the Rwandan embassy. February 7, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Asylum seekers protest outside the Rwandan embassy. February 7, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

[This live blog has ended.]

Activists hope Israel’s deportation plan can be stopped if Rwanda pulls out of its secret deal with Israel. Israeli officials claim they have a secret agreement with an African country — widely presumed to be Rwanda —according to which that country will accept refugees deported from Israel. Rwandan officials, however, have repeatedly denied the existence of any agreement with Israel and recently sent out messages discouraging asylum seekers from leaving Israel for Rwanda under threat of imprisonment or coercion.

Israel began issuing deportation notices to individual asylum seekers on Sunday, instructing them to leave Israel within two months or face indefinite detention. Some asylum seekers said they were informed by Interior Ministry officials that they would be sent to Rwanda or Uganda, while others said they were told only that they would be sent to a “third country.”

Between 2013 and 2017, 3,959 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers left Israel for Rwanda under the “voluntary return” program, part of the Israeli government’s efforts to rid the country of asylum seekers. Israeli officials have implied that the asylum seekers sent to Rwanda would receive some kind of legal status and be able to build their lives there. However, testimonies of those asylum seekers who left for Rwanda paint an entirely different — and much grimmer — picture: they were denied formal status in Rwanda, then trafficked into Uganda. From there they faced a choice: return to their countries of origin, where they could be killed or imprisoned, or risk the journey to Libya, where they would attempt the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

In a report that collected testimonies from Eritrean asylum seekers sent to Rwanda, the asylum seekers warned those still in Israel: “You want to die? Then go back. If you don’t want to die, stay in Israel.”

The protests

Hundreds of activists and asylum seekers are demonstrating outside of the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya on Wednedsay.

Thousands of activists and asylum seekers protest outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Thousands of activists and asylum seekers protest outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Thousands of asylum seekers and activists protest outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Thousands of asylum seekers and activists protest outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Longtime Israeli activist and Black Panther Reuven Abergel joins the asylum seeker protests outside of the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Longtime Israeli activist and Black Panther Reuven Abergel joins the asylum seeker protests outside of the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Asylum seekers protest in front of the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org.)

Asylum seekers protest in front of the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org.)

Activists and asylum seekers protesting outside the Rwandan embassy. February 7, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Activists and asylum seekers protesting outside the Rwandan embassy. February 7, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Asylum seekers and activists protesting outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 18, 2018. (Einat Petchersky)

Asylum seekers and activists protesting outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya. February 18, 2018. (Einat Petchersky)

Thousands of asylum seekers protesting outside the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Einat Petchersky)

Thousands of asylum seekers protesting outside the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya. February 7, 2018. (Einat Petchersky)

Demonstrators braved the snow in Paris to protest against Israel’s deportation plan:

Protesters outside the Rwandan embassy in Paris. February 7, 2018. (Photos by Shai Somek)

Protesters outside the Rwandan embassy in Paris. February 7, 2018. (Photo by Shai Somek)

Protesters also gathered in Geneva to protest Israel’s deportation plan:

Protesters in Geneva against Israel's plan to deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. February 7, 2018. (Ana Wild)

Protesters in Geneva against Israel’s plan to deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. February 7, 2018. (Ana Wild)

Protesters in Geneva demonstrating against Israel's plan to deport the asylum seekers. February 7, 2018. (Ana Wild)

Protesters in Geneva demonstrating against Israel’s plan to deport the asylum seekers. February 7, 2018. (Ana Wild)

Demonstrators outside of the Rwandan embassy in Geneva. February 7, 2018. (Ana Wild)

Demonstrators outside of the United Nations in Geneva. February 7, 2018. (Ana Wild)

 

Activists and asylum seekers protested in Berlin against Israel’s deportation plan:

Protests against Israel's deportation plan in Berlin. February 7, 2018. (Shahar Shoham)

Protesters against Israel’s deportation plan in Berlin. February 7, 2018. (Shahar Shoham)

Demonstrators outside of the Rwandan embassy in Berlin protesting Israel's deportation plan. February 7, 2018. (Shahar Shoham)

Demonstrators outside of the Rwandan embassy in Berlin protesting Israel’s deportation plan. February 7, 2018. (Shahar Shoham)

Demonstrators outside the Rwandan embassy in Berlin. February 7, 2018. (Shahar Shoham)

Demonstrators outside the Rwandan embassy in Berlin. February 7, 2018. (Shahar Shoham)

Demonstrators outside of the Rwandan embassy in Berlin. February 7, 2018. (Shahar Shoham)

Demonstrators outside of the Rwandan embassy in Berlin. February 7, 2018. (Shahar Shoham)

 

Protesters gathered outside of the Rwandan embassy in London:

Demonstrators outside the Rwandan embassy in London. February 7, 2018. (Noa Bar)

Demonstrators outside the Rwandan embassy in London. February 7, 2018. (Noa Bar)

 

In Stockholm, protesters gathered outside the Rwandan embassy last Friday and, in the snow, outside the Israeli embassy on Wednesday.

stockholm rwanda 5

Protesters outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm. February 7, 2018. (Netta Beer)

Protesters outside the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm on Friday, February 2, 2018. (Netta Beer)

Protesters outside the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm on Friday, February 2, 2018. (Netta Beer)

Protesters outside the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm. February 2, 2018. (Netta Beer)

Protesters outside the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm. February 2, 2018. (Netta Beer)

 

In Chicago, a number of demonstrators took the protest to the Israeli consulate in the city:

Pro-refugee protesters in Chicago, February 7, 2018.

Pro-refugee protesters in Chicago outside the Israeli consulate, February 7, 2018. (Courtesy)

 

In San Francisco, a dozen or so protesters gathered outside the Israeli consulate:

The anti-deportation protest outside the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, February 7, 2018. (Rob Ungar)

The anti-deportation protest outside the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, February 7, 2018. (Rob Ungar)

Protesters hold signs against the deportation of African refugees outside the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, February 7, 2018. (Rob Ungar)

Protesters hold signs against the deportation of African refugees outside the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, February 7, 2018. (Rob Ungar)

 

In New York, protesters gathered outside the Rwandan mission to the United Nations:

Anti-deportation protest outside the Rwandan UN mission in Manhattan, February 7, 2018.

Anti-deportation protest outside the Rwandan UN mission in Manhattan, February 7, 2018.

Anti-deportation protest outside the Rwandan UN mission in Manhattan, February 7, 2018.

Anti-deportation protest outside the Rwandan UN mission in Manhattan, February 7, 2018.

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