Monday, September 10, 2007

African activist detained, humiliated and strip searched by Israeli security

An African activist of The VOICE Refugee Forum, Germany detained, humiliated and strip searched by the Israeli security at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.

Mr. Yufanyi Mbolo, a leading activist of The VOICE Refugee Forum Germany, on Wednesday the 5th of September 2007 received a racist and humiliating treatment from the Israeli security at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv when returning to Germany. Mr Mbolo was on a trip to Israel/Palestine with his girlfriend Miss Mai Zeidani also an activist, to visit her family.

On his visit, he also met with some homeless families in Israel who are now staging a squatting protest in the centre of the city in Jerusalem. In Israel/Palestine, there are at the moment about 53,000 families without home or support from the Israeli state. He also visited the office of the Physicians for human rights based in Tel Aviv, were he met with some African refugees and migrant activists.

On his return back to Germany, Mr. Mbolo was told at the airport to take another lane when he told one security officer after being asked that he had a Cameroonian Passport. He was left to stand there for some time until he protested through his girlfriend, to be attended to. He was then taken aside by one security personnel and interrogated with questions like why he came to Israel. He then told the personnel that the reason for his trip was nearby, the family of his girlfriend. At this stage, Miss Zeidani and her mother were some metres away and she was then called to answer some more questions in Hebrew so he could not understand and her identification was noted.

After thorough consultations with other agents and presumably with the realisation that Miss Zeidani has a Palestinian father, Mr. Mbolo was ushered again further aside but in the mist of everyone at the airport. His three luggages were striped apart and individual and personal items x-rayed in search for bombs or bomb traces. This lasted about 30 minutes and as if this was not enough, Mr Mbolo was then taken to a private room by two security agents where he was strip searched and part of what he was putting on taken away and x-rayed.

The whole open and private sessions took about an hour and twenty minutes and when they could not find anything, Mr Yufanyi Mbolo’s things were separated and hastily parked. A luggage containing his clothes and some presents and a bottle of Arak (taken away and extra parked by the security agents) were taken to be extra checked-in. The extra checked things only arrived the next day after he was already in Germany. Only God knows what the agents did with his belongings after they took it from him.

When his girlfriend and her mother asked almost at the end of the racist humiliation what happened inside the room, Mr. Mbolo told them in front of the Israeli agents that it was one of the worst experiences of his life.

They tried to ask the agents what the problem was and were answered in Hebrew that they were just doing their job. On the question of Miss Zeidani in English to the agents why such humiliation, she was told to speak in Hebrew. During this time, the so-called security supervisor or chief Mr Jonathan Bar-lev, (known to the security agents as “Max”) was called. He then again noted the identity of Miss Zeidani and Mr. Mbolo.

Miss Zeidani asked why all these harassment when one protests against humiliation in Israel and the answer she got from the security boss in Hebrew was, “You are wasting your time, I am being paid to do this”. After Mr. Mbolo had already left, Miss Zeidani asked Mr Bar-lev for his personal number for future reference. Not only did he not show his card but upon request he hid the personal numbers that were on it and insisted that all Miss Zeidani needed is the number 15922.

This kind of racist humiliation at the hands of Israeli security agents is not an exception in the Ben Gurion airport or by the state of Israel. On the 19th of July this year, the South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU) sent out a Press Statement ( about the racist and aggressive treatment of their First Vice President who was detained, strip searched by Israeli security and underwent even a more horrible experience in South Africa and Israel/Palestine. The experience of Mr Yufanyi Mbolo also at the Israeli embassy (in Berlin) before acquiring his visa can only confirm this racist behaviour. He was mocked at by Israelis in Hebrew, asking the security guard if they allow people who have not had a bath to enter the Israeli embassy; and they all laughed, including the guard. They meant that because he was black, he did not have a shower. All this was at the entrance to the Israeli embassy. Even in the embassy itself, when Mr Yufanyi asked for a visa on paper and not in his Pass because he would like to go to other Muslim countries like Sudan, he was asked by the Consul, “What do you want to do in a country like Sudan where they are killing each other?” On arrival in Israel, he was told that his visa from the embassy was just a recommendation for a visa and not a real visa and that he should have gotten into contact with the internal ministry for a visa. The Palestinians have more horrible stories to tell.

We, The VOICE Refugee Forum condemn in the strongest terms, the racist and fascist treatment of our member and leading activist. The horrible treatment received by Mr. Yufanyi and also the experience which he reported to us, about the maltreatment and deportation of other Africans and migrants in Israel/Palestine are unacceptable. Israel, a country which should have learnt most through the last century about the effects of racism through European persecution of the Jews is doing nothing but repeating these on others.

- We demand that an investigation be carried out to prosecute the initiators of these racist acts. We demand an explanation of what happened to Mr. Yufanyi Mbolo’s belongings after they “somehow” got missing on the way to Germany.
- We demand an open apology to him and Miss Zeidani’s family.
We also demand a quick resolution of the problems of the families presently squatting at the city centre in Jerusalem and a political solution to the homeless families in Israel/Palestine.
- We demand the deportation stop for African refugees ( and refugees in general and the recognition of the Palestinian refugees.
- We demand the abolition of Israeli apartheid against the Palestinians and an end of Israeli occupation of Palestine.

For more information, contact Mr Yufanyi Movuh Mbolo.
The VOICE Forum Göttingen,
Tel.: +49 (0)551/58892 or 2712898
Handy: +49 (0)170/8788124
Fax: +49 (0)551/58898

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