venerdì 3 dicembre 2010

Radical Senators Perduca and Poretti write to the Egyptian Embassies in Italy

Radical Senators Perduca and Poretti write to the Egyptian Embassies in Italy to denounce the persecutions suffered by scores of migrants in the Sinai, launching an appeal for the respect of international law by Cairo. Text of the letter. H.E. the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Italy Mohamed Ashraf Gamal Eldin Rashed Villa Savoia via Salaria 267 - Roma Fax. 06/8554424 – 06/85301175 Email: H.E. Ambassador of the Arab Repubblic of Egypt in Holy See Mrs. Lamia Aly Mekhemar della Città Leonina, 9 - Roma Fax: 06/6832335 Email: C/c: H.E. Ambassador of the Italian Republic in Egypt Mr. Claudio Pacifico 15, Abdel Rahman Fahmy Str. Garden City - Il Cairo - Egitto Fax: +20 (0)2 27940657 E-mail: Your excellencies: We take the liberty to draw Your attention to the plight of scorse of refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia who are currently held hostage in the Sinai Desert by Bedouin people traffickers. According to various sources that in the past have been crucial to denounce systematic violations of Human Rights, these people are reported to have been held for over a month in the outskirts of a town in the Sinai in containers! Their captors are demanding a ransom of US$8,000 per person, and are treating them in extremely degrading and inhumane manners. They are bound by chains around their ankles, have been deprived of adequate food, are given salty water to drink, and have been tortured also with electric shocks, to force friends and families abroad to make the payments. As you can imagine the women in the group, who have been separated from the rest, are particularly vulnerable to severe abuses of all kinds. Last weekend, the situation seriously deteriorated. In fact, hostages were branded like cattle, and on Sunday evening, three Eritrean men were reportedly shot dead after their families confirmed to the kidnappers that they were unable to meet the additional US$8000 - apparently those hostages had already paid US$2000. On Tuesday morning, three more hostages were reported to have died following a severe assault by the traffickers after a group of 12 attempted to escape. Due to a series of on-going human rights crises, the Horn of Africa in general, and the Sinai in particular, have become a major centre for people trafficking by highly organized crime syndicates. In a harrowing report recently compiled in Israel, refugees recount the horrors that were inflicted upon them at facilities in the Sinai where traffickers attempt to elicit increasingly large sums of money from them: systematic rape, electrocution, branding with hot metal, beatings and extrajudicial killings seem to be the norm in those detention camps. In August of this year, the Agence France Presse news agency reported the deaths of six Eritreans by the Egypt-Israel border, four of whom were killed in a dispute with smugglers. In June, ten African refugees, including Eritreans, were reportedly killed by human smugglers in the Sinai after they had been held for more than two months in secret underground locations. The smugglers are allegedly using extreme methods of torture, including electric shocks, to force the victims make the illegal payments. Since October, Egypt is the new chair of the UN refugee agency's governing body, therefore it has an obligation to grant protection under international law to those people, at the same time it should do its utmost to crack down on those criminal gangs that for such lengthy periods, and with seeming impunity within Egyptian borders, have been able to operate. As a signatory to the UN and African refugee conventions, Egypt has a duty to end this situation and bring its treatment of refugees in line with international norms; at the same time the international community has an obligation to ensure that her members uphold these norms. The lives of hundreds of refugees currently appear to hang in the balance. We therefore appeal to You, as representatives of the Arab Republic of Egypt, to forward this call for action to your Capital in order to ensure that these refugees are rescued, and that every refugee in Egypt is afforded full protection, assistance and support. It is also crucial that Egypt brings its treatment of refugees in line with the international norms it recognizes allowing unhindered access to UNHCR officials to all refugees, putting an end to the practice of jailing refugees and shooting migrants on its border with Israel. At the same time we urge Egypt to tackle organized crime bringing those slave merchants to justice. We look forward to continuing this dialogue. Yours sincerely, Marco Perduca secretary Special Commission on Human Rights Donatella Poretti secretary Health Committee

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