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Join the United African Organization (UAO) in protesting the treatment of Africans crossing the Egypt-Israel border. Help us present a united front for their human rights! 

 Last week, Egyptian border guards shot and killed an African who was trying to get over the border and into Israel. This brings the official total to 16 migrants murdered as they tried to escape deteriorating conditions in Eritrea and the Sudan. Advocates say that the real numbers are probably higher. In addition, hundreds have been arrested and placed in detention. The Egyptian government openly defends their actions as a border-control policy, and calls the migrants “infiltrators.”

 THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT A RISK TO EGYPTIAN NATIONAL SECURITY. The vast majority are passing through the Sinai desert on their way to Israel or Europe. In many cases, a human trafficking ring drives them to the border, then drops them off and tells them to run. If they are spotted by Egyptian security guards, they are fired at and often injured or killed. Why is Egypt so concerned with migrants leaving their territory? Egypt and Israel agreed in 2007 on harsh measures to discourage this stream of refugees. If Egypt can’t prevent them from crossing, Israel pushes them right back over the border.

 BOTH EGYPT AND ISRAEL ARE VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW. Human rights conventions prohibit security officials from using lethal force unless there is “a proportional and necessary response to a threat to life.” In addition, the principle of “non-refoulement” guarantees asylum-seekers the right to demonstrate their fear of persecution before a legal authority. Both countries are failing to assess migrants’ need for protection. In addition, Egypt refuses the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) access to detainees. Foreigners are arrested on sight, thrown in jail, tried before a military court and sent back into the Sudan.

 Call the Israeli and Egyptian Embassies, and tell them NOT to shoot at migrants fleeing desperate circumstances!

ISRAEL:    (202) 364-5500                             EGYPT:  (202) 895-5400

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Letter to
Embassy of Egypt
Embassy of Israel
Sameh Hassan Shoukry
Ambassador to the U.S.
Embassy of Egypt
3521 International Ct. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008

Michael Oren
Ambassador to the U.S.
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Dr. N.W.
Washington DC 20008

November 30, 2009

Dear Sirs,

On behalf of the African immigrant community in the US and the undersigned organizations, the United African Organization (UAO) wishes to express to the Egyptian and Israeli governments its grave concerns for the unarmed civilians being killed in cold blood at the border between your countries. Since May 2008, the number of African refugees killed at the border continues to grow without any end in sight. As of yet, there are no reports of any efforts to prevent future killings.

While sovereign nations are entitled to protect their borders, human rights law clearly prohibits arbitrary mistreatment, regardless of an individual’s citizenship. The most fundamental principle of the international system, the right to life, is alienable only in defense of self or others. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms allows the use of force “only if other means remain ineffective,” and “only in proportion to the seriousness of the offense.” A warning before shooting does not authorize lethal force, because unarmed border-crossers do not constitute an immediate threat to life. Furthermore, this zero tolerance approach to unauthorized migration violates the principle of “non-refoulement,” according to which both of your governments must provide asylum to individuals who can establish a credible fear of persecution.

Though Egyptian security personnel are pulling the triggers, Israeli immigration officials have demonstrated their complicity in criminalizing these desperate individuals by summarily returning them to Egypt without first assessing their protection needs. Similarly, Egypt has subjected immigrants to a range of prohibited practices such as indefinite detention, biased adjudication without impartial counsel and the forced repatriation of at-risk nationals who are likely to face torture and assassination on return.

We reject the argument that these refugees constitute a prima facie national security risk for Egypt or Israel, and bring attention to the ranks of underpaid and exploited workers residing in both countries.

We urge you, as nations committed to the rule of law, to ensure that your policies and processes adhere to basic standards of humanitarian conduct, by respecting the life and dignity of all non-nationals under any and all circumstances. As advocates for African immigrants and refugees, we will continue to monitor your border activities and report to our Representatives in the United States Congress.


CC: Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Scott Busby, Multilateral Affairs & Human Rights, National Security Council
Nicole Shampaine, Office of Egypt & Levant Affairs, State Department
Thomas Goldberger, Office of Israel & Palestinian Affairs, State Department
Consulate General of Egypt, Chicago
Consulate General of Israel, Chicago



Organizations:

Africa Action
African Community United Methodist Church
African Human Services
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Beninese Association of Illinois
Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants in Illinois
Council on American Islamic Relations – Chicago
Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
Durango Unido en Chicago
Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago
Ethiopian Community Development Council
Ghana National Council of Metropolitan Chicago
Instituto del Progreso Latino
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights
Organization of the Liberian Community in Illinois
Pan African Association
Priority Africa Network
Sierra Leone Community Association of Chicago
Somaliland Community of Metropolitan Chicago
St. Stephens African Methodist Episcopal Church
Togolese Association of Chicago
Uganda Community of Greater Chicag