Flouting International Law: Violating the Human Rights of Asylum Seekers, Including Victims of Torture and Human Trafficking, in and en route to Israel – Laurie Lijnders
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
My 15-year-old brother Habtom disappeared after he was released from an underground cell in the trafficking compound of Abu Khalid, where he was tortured for three months until we paid US$35,000 for his release, a young Eritrean woman told me during a visit to her home in a Tel Aviv suburb. Habtom, who fled forced military conscription and institutionalized slavery in Eritrea, was kidnapped in April 2012 from Shagarab refugee camp in Eastern Sudan by Rishyada tribesmen. Through a well-organized network of human traffickers operating in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, and Israel, he was transferred to the northern Sinai desert, near the Egyptian border with Israel.
The Israeli Ministry of Interior estimates that 60,000 African asylum seekers, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, have arrived in Israel in recent years via the country’s southern border. According to Israeli human rights organizations, arriving asylum seekers face serious rights violations on both sides of the border.
Western University School of Medicine and Dentistry
The doctors of Canada are angry. Last May in Toronto, a group of 90 physicians clad in white coats and scrubs occupied the office of a high-ranking member of the Canadian Parliament. Since then, physicians have consistently interrupted press conferences held by Conservative members of Parliament to protest cuts to the country’s Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which since 1957 has provided basic health care to refugees and asylum seekers.
Under the new policy, many refugees will receive care only in “urgent and necessary” cases or if their illness is deemed a threat to public health. Ironically, these cuts came into effect on the July 1st celebration of Canada Day, when this nation of immigrants and refugees celebrates its independence and its core values of generosity, openness, and multiculturalism.
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
This is a note of circumstance in two ways. First, it was written as the prelude to a lecture on “Global Health” delivered at the Conference of the Society for Medical Anthropology at Yale University in September 2009; it must therefore be placed in this broader perspective. Second, it refers to a scene I found significant in the early period of the debate around health care reform in the United States. However, I do not want to be seen as following the crowd of critics of this courageous and indispensable reform always deferred. Thus this fragment must be considered simultaneously within this specific context and outside of it, since it is meant to evoke the larger question of which members a society may exclude from its solidarity (and I refer here to “members” because people who live, work and die in a given society can claim membership whatever their citizenship and status). Read more…