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מרכז לקהילה האפריקאית בירושלים

It Is My Natural Right To Be Free

Jack Adam, a 31 year old Sudanese refugee living in Israel has returned to Jerusalem where he has lived for six years before he was detained at the Holot Detention Center. Upon his release, he has written us about the experiences of his detention and its aftermath.

The prison authorities constantly pressured me to leave (Israel). And yet I had to withstand since I had no alternative. Twice a day I had to persuade myself not to give in to the pressures. It was enough to remember my brothers who left and were killed or drowned in the Mediterranean sea. I was detained at the Holot Detention Center for 19 months under extreme conditions, as if I have committed crime but I know I am innocent. In my home country, I was subjugated due to my ethnicity and here I am disenfranchised once again. In tears I find myself asking, why?

I was purposely isolated in order to make me feel alone. Even though I was living amongst thousands of people that demonstrated the highest level of kinship, still I felt alone and depressed, not knowing what future awaits me. I was sent to the most remote corner of the country in order to distance me from the caring citizens that might lend me a hand. Despite these intentions, while detained at Holot, I have faced the highest level of humanity in the form of people who cared and offered their amity. Israelis have revealed their kindness in their visiting Holot every weekend as if they were family. Not only did they pamper us with gifts, they also never stopped struggling for our rights.

I might be expected to hate the people of Israel for the treatment I have received here but my countless encounters and sweetest experiences with the Israeli populace constantly give me new reasons to love them. Some may see me as naive but I believe in the Israeli people and I am not ashamed of it.

At the detention center I was deprived of the opportunity to obtain any form of education. And yet, I have learned more than I have ever expected. One of the chief staff members at Holot once told me, "We have learned so much from you people". I believe that it is I that has learned from them.

What inspired me the most during my stay at the detention center is the strength and resilience of my community. I am proud to be a part of the Sudanese community in Israel for it is a beautiful community. I believe that our resilience as a community lies at the root of the decision to send us first to the detention center.

I do not like being a refugee even though it is what I am. I spend most of my time in effort to relieve myself of this title. The life of a refugee is a difficult one. Not only do we suffer great hardships in our wanderings but we often find harshness were it is least expected. I do not ask of anyone to make a refugee of me. My only wish is to be the master of my own fate. I am capable of doing fantastic things if only the world would open up and accept me. If only there were justice and equality upon this earth, I would have had the chance to put my talents to use and show the world I am more than just a refugee. I have the capacity to spread light and joy throughout the globe, if only the right doors were open to me and I were allowed to be free as I was when I was born. I am content with the Supreme Court's decision to limit the detention at Holot but I am not shaken by my release. I believe it is my natural right to be as free as everyone else.

Seven years have passed since I have first reached Israel and I remain in the same limbo in which I was in when I have entered. The calendar of a refugee offers new challenges every month and yet I always try to hope for the best. Looking back is harder for me. It is a task for which I require assistance. I am always afraid of being drowned in the river of my sorrow and grief for my fellow countrymen whose blood was spilled and for the widowers and orphans that were left behind.

When I was released from the detention center, I did not know where I would spend the night. I had no money for food and nowhere to stay. Luckily, I was warmly hosted by Israeli families in the most wonderful homes. I was not only offered a meal and a place to stay but was also supported emotionally. It seems to me as though these people that have selflessly reached out to me in their kindness have an extraordinary connection with humanity and hold some sort of an ability to tell when and where people are in need.

I will love Israel and Israelis forever for their kind and generous attitude towards me and towards humanity. I believe that most Israelis would be caring and loving towards refugees if they were only familiar with the reality of our lives. I hope that one day someone will find a way to reveal this reality before them and introduce them to my people and to their plight.

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