A mob of males wielding sticks and knives attacked a shelter for LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa on February 23. Police known as to the location arrested a minimum of eight folks from sub-Saharan Africa, although they’ve refugee standing and are due to this fact authorized residents in Tunisia. That is the newest violence to happen in a local weather of rising hostility in the direction of Black Africans, spurred by a marketing campaign of repression by the authorities and xenophobic feedback made by the Tunisian president.
A gaggle of males attacked a shelter for LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa in Ariana, a northern suburb of Tunis in the course of the night time of Thursday, February 23. For residents on the shelter, it was an evening of pure terror. Many have been crushed whereas others sustained knife wounds. About thirty folks, together with a minimum of six folks in possession of refugee playing cards from the United Nations, have been arrested that night time.
This wasn’t the primary assault of its form. A couple of days earlier, on Monday, February 20, one other mob attacked one other shelter for LGBTQ refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, this one positioned in Bab el Khadhra, within the centre of Tunis.
The FRANCE 24 Observers staff spoke to 2 refugees who have been there in the course of the assault in Ariana on February 23.
‘The son of the owner threatened to evict us. The subsequent day, he returned with an armed mob’
Chiraz (not her actual identify) is a transgender refugee from a sub-Saharan Africa nation. We aren’t utilizing her actual identify to guard her security. She was on the shelter in Ariana on February 23 when the mob attacked.
On the night of February 23, the son of the owner got here, desirous to evict everybody residing within the shelter. The night time earlier than, he had stood in entrance of the constructing and threatened us.
This younger man, who our Observers say is the son of their landlord, throws a stone on the particular person filming from the balcony. The younger man shouts an obscene insult, telling the particular person to “go dwelling”, an added insult to a refugee group. “I’ll f*ck you within the a**gap. Not tonight, however what till I catch you tomorrow, soiled f**,” he provides.
I don’t dwell on this shelter however we determined to assemble collectively in a single condo for security after the assault on one other shelter for LGBTQ folks from sub-Saharan Africa on February 20.
There have been about 35 or 36 of us within the condo that night time, all of us Black folks from sub-Saharan Africa. The son of the owner, who usually says racist and homophobic issues to us refugees, got here the night time of February 23 together with a number of different Tunisian males. They tried to open the door with a duplicate of our keys however then ended up breaking it down.
They grabbed my hair, exhausting sufficient to drag out a few of my locks they usually stabbed a number of folks. Different folks have been crushed, punched within the face.
‘As a substitute of arresting the boys who attacked us, the police took us away’
The police got here later however as an alternative of arresting the boys who have been attacking us, they introduced us to the Borj Louzir police station [Ariana, a suburb of Tunis, NDLR]!
On the police station, we confirmed them our refugee playing cards from the UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees. Nonetheless, the police instructed us they thought our papers had been solid.
This video, filmed the night time of February 23, reveals a mob of Tunisian males gathered in entrance of a constructing the place refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa have been residing. You can even see two police vehicles in addition to uniformed brokers.
With a purpose to get by means of the state of affairs, I instructed the police that I used to be an artist from sub-Saharan Africa and claimed that my present look was an “creative” look I used to be cultivating. I needed to lie about my gender as a result of I used to be nervous a couple of transphobic assault from the police. Lastly, they let seven of the eight of us who had refugee playing cards go.
Nonetheless, the individuals who didn’t have refugee playing cards stay in detention.
A pal of mine who’s transgender remains to be in detention, although she has refugee standing. In response to my data, she’s been transferred to the El Ouardia migrant detention centre [Editor’s note: Formally, this Tunis establishment is known as a reception and orientation centre for migrants, however rampant human rights abuses there have been reported by both the media and NGOs].
I haven’t had any information from her since.
We live in concern that we’ll be arrested or crushed on the street and, so, I don’t exit any extra. As a Black trans girl, it’s actually exhausting for me to get housing in Tunisia. You come throughout landlords who need sexual favors or generally folks will evict us after they realise that we’re trans. Even with help from the HCR, it will possibly take time to seek out housing.
“Chiraz” was given a spot in a shelter run by the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on February 28. The Tunisian workplace of the HCR additionally paid for the medical care of these injured within the assault.
“Brian” (not actual identify) is one other LGBTQ refugee from sub-Saharan Africa. He was injured in the course of the assault on February 20 and is now homeless.
‘The police ripped up our refugee playing cards and known as us ‘f**s’’
The day after the assault, I used to be on the police station all day. We have been mistreated— they insulted us and made us sit on the ground. Officers ripped up the refugee playing cards belonging to among the individuals who had been arrested. Fortunately, I didn’t find yourself in jail, in contrast to a few of my buddies.
Contemplating the state of affairs proper now, it’s already harmful sufficient to simply be strolling on the road as a Black particular person. However now, after they see our refugee playing cards, then they know that we’re gay or trans they usually insult us, name us names.
At present, most people who have been residing in these shelters are on the road. About 15 of them are packed into an condo that’s nonetheless below development. We’re afraid and we don’t exit anymore.
Now we have been reaching out to our respective consulates and embassies for assist however they instructed us that they’ll’t assist us as a result of we’ve got refugee standing from the UNHCR.
‘An Algerian LGBTQ refugee in Tunisia received’t really feel focused, however Black persons are usually the targets of assaults’
Alexandre Marcel is the president of the IDAHO committee (Worldwide Day In opposition to Homophobia), an NGO that fights in opposition to homophobia in French-speaking Africa. The organisation is making an attempt to offer authorized assist to the victims of this wave of repression in Tunisia.
When there are arrests of this kind, IDAHO tries to determine whether it is linked to somebody’s sexual orientation or gender id. Many individuals have been arrested although they’re refugees. And generally the police confiscate their papers and their passports and rip them up.
The [xenophobic] statements made by the president have made issues fully completely different and harmful. It’s gotten so unhealthy that some taxi drivers will take a Black man on to the police station if he will get into his car. We’ve reached that time.
A LGBTQ refugee from Algeria who resides in Tunisia received’t really feel focused, however Black persons are usually the targets of assaults and threats. The shelters the place these folks keep are discrete and never official. Nonetheless, when the police stumble throughout them, they have a tendency to blow all of it up— destroying folks’s houses and private belongings.
The HCR must open corridors for these folks to journey to the west. These folks have already skilled persecution by the hands of the state or the general public. However the procedures to get to Europe or North America are troublesome. You need to present a variety of proof [of persecution] and that takes time.
The UNHCR ought to actually allow folks to use for asylum in different international locations from the place they’re being persecuted. As a result of, proper now, if you wish to request asylum, you truly must get to the nation the place you need to be your self and apply as soon as there.
This put up in French by Amal Bintnadia roughly interprets as: “In entrance of IOM Tunisia – المنظمة الدولية للهجرة بتونس, tons of of migrants, ladies and youngsters, amongst them folks with accidents, who have been attacked, who noticed their houses looted… they’re asking to be repatriated and have been ready weeks for authorisation from the IOM.”
‘We’re calling on folks to share any helpful data with us’
Our staff contacted a number of organisations devoted to LGBTQ rights in Tunisia, however none of them had details about the destiny of the undocumented LGBTQ folks arrested on February 23.
Many migrants don’t know something about their rights. Furthermore, folks throughout the LGBTQ sub-Saharan group are much more scared. Because of this, the Tunisian NGO Damj, which is devoted to combating for minority rights, has been asking the general public for assist figuring out individuals who want authorized and social help. Najia Mansour, who runs the department in Tunis and its environs, explains:
Even the president of Damj, who’s Black, was attacked on the street.
We’ve arrange three emergency phone lines relying on the area of the nation the place persons are positioned – one in Tunis, for folks within the north, one in Sfax, for folks within the south, and one in Kef, within the centre of the nation. We’re calling on folks to share any data they may have about migrants in issue.
Typically, we have to anticipate a sufferer to be launched from custody with a purpose to present them with authorized assist. In the interim, it’s an imperfect system, however working – we are going to anticipate the particular person to be launched after which file an administrative criticism over the mistreatment and torture they might have skilled by the hands of the authorities.
The FRANCE 24 Observers staff tried to contact the police in Soukra and Borj Louzir, however they instructed us to contact the Inside Ministry.
We tried a number of instances to contact the Inside Ministry, however with no success. We’ll publish their response in the event that they do get again to us.