Babi Ibrahim, a Sudanese
asylum seeker and the star of a theater play about the life of the Sudanese community in Israel,
was arrested Thursday in Tel Aviv
for stealing a bicycle.
According to his friends, his arrest was the result of the policemen's misassumption, but his continued incarceration was allowed under the framework of "treatment of criminally involved infiltrators," which allows the prolonged detention of infiltrators and asylum seekers on the basis of suspicion alone. Ibrahim was taken to Ben Gurion
Airport's 'refused entry facility' and will be transferred to Givon detention facility on Sunday.
"Babi was arrested yesterday at the barbershop in which he works, because he chained his bicycle to a pole outside, and customers rested their bicycles next to his. Police who arrived at the scene assumed that his bicycle was stolen property, and arrested him on false charges of selling stolen goods. After police realized they could not charge him of any crime, they used the scandalous laws to prevent infiltration to charge him with infiltration, or, if you will, escaping Sudan due to political persecution," Daphna Lichtman, who runs a library in Tel Aviv's Levinsky Park that produced the play, wrote on Facebook.
According to his friends, Ibrahim, 30, infiltrated into Israel six years ago after being persecuted for his political activity in Sudan. In the play "One Strong Black" he portrays a satirical character of a policeman that arrests a Sudanese man on false charges of stolen property.
The play "One Strong Black" (Photo: Yael Tal)
"The arrest demonstrates the absurdity of the new procedure, which allows incarcerating people without trial for their entire lives," said Lichtman to Ynet. According to her, "Babi is a longtime volunteer at the library; he has a considerate and astonishing ideology that is not often seen. He said at every opportunity he had that he is not angry at the Israelis and understands the difficulty in accepting others."
At the beginning of the month, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein
updated the discussed procedure, which now allows the prolonged arrest of asylum seekers and infiltrators from Sudan and Eritrea, even if suspected of relatively minor offenses, and without sufficient evidence to prosecute them.
Previously, Immigration Authority regulations stated that only those suspected of committing offenses that endanger the State's security or public safety can be transferred to detention facilities. Now, it is sufficient they would be "suspected of an offense involving real harm to public order" – a broad definition, which also refers to minor property offenses. The meaning is potential prolonged detention due to suspicion of mobile phone or bicycle theft, for example.
In a letter to the AG, dozens of legal representatives demanded to cancel the procedure that crudely tramples, to their definition, basic human rights. Their demands were translated into a demonstration in front of Weinstein's home Saturday evening, and Weinstein himself walked up to the protesters and committed to examining the regularity behind Ibrahim's arrest.
According to police figures, some 500 suspected infiltrators have been arrested as part of the previous procedure in the past year. Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch pointed to additional 1,000 suspects facing imprisonment in accordance with the new procedure.
Tel Aviv District Police said that "due to information received about a store that sells stolen bicycles, a Border Guard team at the scene identified five luxurious bikes. When people on site were asked who the bikes belong to, no one claimed ownership. In a routine search it was found that the suspect carried the keys to one of the bikes' lock, unable to give a satisfactory explanation as to where he purchased them. Therefore he was questioned for possession of stolen property and arrested."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop