Itongadol.- Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers were joined by human rights activists to conduct alternative Passover Seder in Holot detention center. \’Like the Jews, we also crossed the Egyptian desert, but we are not free here.\’
More than a hundred African asylum seekers and human rights activists came together Friday to hold an alternative Passover Seder at the Holot Detention Center – the \’open jail\’ currently housing more than a thousand African refugee seekers.
The participants were joined by the detention center\’s residents, and together read parts of the Passover \’Haggadah\’ – a semi-religious text detailing the order of the Passover meal (or Seder) and the biblical story of the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land.
Thus the event\’s organizers attempted to highlight similarities between the plight of the biblical Israelites and those of the African asylum seekers, who also crossed Egypt to reach Israel.
The ceremony was conducted in Hebrew but was simultaneously translated into Arabic for the Sudanese and Tigrigna for the Eritreans.
Israel opened the Holot complex last December after the Supreme Court shot down an article in the Infiltrators Prevention Bill which allowed the practice of jailing illegal migrants – or infiltrators as the government and asylum seeker detractors call them – for up to three years in regular prisons.
But in what the migrants called a cruel twist and rights groups said was a rights violation, another law passed the same month allowing the migrants to be detained indefinitely, pending the resolution of their requests to stay in Israel.
Kushma, an Erithean asylum seeker who has been in the Holot for two months spoke of the event and its significance: "We read about the Israelites crossing the desert to escape slavery – its is an inspirational story which gives hope that one day we will also win our freedom."