By Lesley Williams
This is the text of a speech given in front of the Rwandan consulate in Chicago
From the book of Esther: : ‘If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish.
Last month, the Israeli government offered some 38,000 migrants from Eritrea and Sudan a stark choice: $3,500 and a plane ticket to a third country in Africa, or jail. To date Israel has rejected over 99 percent , of asylum requests, granting status to a mere 10 Africans out of tens of thousands, making it the western world’s most miserly country towards refugees, by far.
Now it appears as though the lives of these desperate people have been sold at a cost of $5000 apiece to the Rwandan government. Although Israel and Rwanda claim this will ensure the refugees safety, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Testimonies collected over the past few months by Israeli researchers prove that although Rwanda committed itself to absorbing them, the asylum seekers sent there from Israel do not have legal residency status and are not granted any basic rights.
- According to The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, no one is supervising the fate of asylum seekers who leave for a third country. Refugees are not receiving [residency] status or rights in Rwanda. In fact most are ill treated and forced to move on: to other countries where their abuse and mistreatment continues.
- it is clear that no one is guaranteed refuge. They are being sent not to safety but to their deaths.
Joseph Reechie, We beg you as honorary consul representing the Rwandan government, do not be complicit in this crime against humanity. Do not allow our black siblings to fall into despair. Do not let our people be sold to be destroyed and to perish