The demonstration was held on the occasion of Eritreat's Independence Day and is part of a series of protests held by exiled Eritreans worldwide. The protesters raised signs which read: "President Afewerki's dictatorship=death for Eritrean people" and "The Eritrean people do not want to return to a dictatorship."
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Molugata Tomongi, an Eritrean asylum seeker who has been in Israel for the past four years said, "I am happier than ever to demonstrate on behalf of my family that cannot speak out and protest.
Protesters demand democracy in Eritrea (Photo: Dana Kopel)
"There is a dictatorship in Eritrea. We cannot go back there right now. We are seeking refugee status until a democracy is instated there. We too have families that love us and worry about us."
Tomongi added that the State of Israel is not helping Eritrean asylum seekers. "We are not allowed to work, have no money for rent and that is why you see refugees in Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station."
Addressing recent violent incidents, he said: "There is good and bad among Eritreans just as there is in Israel."
'We can't go back right now' (Photo: Danal Kopel)
Emannuel Yamani, another asylum seeker, said he was stunned at the recent violent wave directed against migrants. "I have just one thing to say to all those protesters: look at your own past. They were refugees too. I take no notice of all those who took to the streets and declared they hate us, I look at the Israelis who understand us and help us."
'No money for rent' (Photo: Dana Kopel)
The protest was also attended by Sigal Rosen of the Migrant Workers Hotline. "If the government doesn't want them here and that's what it looks like, it will be well advised to cool off relations with the dictator who was recently named the worst dictator in the world," she said.
Rosen noted that Israel is avoiding imposing sanctions on Eritrea as part of efforts to improve the country's human rights situation.
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