Tag: Eritrea

የኢትዮጵያ አየር መንገድ የአስመራ ደርሶ መልስ ቲኬት ዋጋን ይፋ አደረገ


የኢትዮጵያ አየር መንገድ ለሃያ ዓመታት ተቋርጦ የነበረውን የአሥመራ በረራውን ከሐምሌ 17/2010 ዓ.ም ሊጀምር መሆኑን አሳውቋል።

የኢትዮጵያ አየር መንገድ በመጀመሪያ በረራው ከአዲስ አበባ ቦሌ ዓለም አቀፍ አየር ማረፊያ ከጠዋቱ 3 ሰዓት በመነሳት በቀጥታ ወደ አሥመራ ጉዞ ያደርጋል። Continue reading “የኢትዮጵያ አየር መንገድ የአስመራ ደርሶ መልስ ቲኬት ዋጋን ይፋ አደረገ”

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Eritrea: Rights Abuses Continue Unabated | HRW


Repeated Human Rights Council resolutions have condemned “in the strongest terms” the “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” by the Eritrean government.  The Council has condemned violations including arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, religious oppression, denials of the rights of free expression and peaceful assembly.

Continue reading “Eritrea: Rights Abuses Continue Unabated | HRW”

Did the Eritrean Regime Embrace Wahabism?


The State of Qatar, until recently one of the main financiers and patron of the Isaias Afwerki regime, is now its enemy, together with Iran and Turkey, the triad that the Eritrean regime alleges they promote the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. The shift began two years ago.

In March 2015, a Saudi led coalition, in which the United Arab Emirate (UAE) is a major partner, declared war on Yemen over the Houthi resistance, a rebellion that has been simmering for many years. That must have been a boon for Isaias Afwerki and his regime.

Since it came to power in 1991 after defeating the Ethiopian Derg regime, the Eritrean rebel group has been trying relentlessly to become a major actor in the geopolitics of the volatile region that includes Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen, and even the Congo. Its overly ambitious pursuit of relevance has costed Eritrea greatly, and immersed it in endless wars that resulted in appalling destitution, egregious governance, and lack of basic freedoms.

As anticipated, by June 2017, the differences among the Gulf countries over the war in Yemen, over the success of the Qatari Al-Jazeera television (that won the hearts and minds of the people of the region), and over a host of other issues, gained prominence. As the war against Yemen lingered on, the relations between Qatar and Saudi-UAE deteriorated so much that last June, unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabia and the UAE imposed a comprehensive trade and diplomatic blockade on Qatar. Since 2015, the Eritrean leader and his officials have made several visits to Saudi Arabia and the shift in the relationship with Qatar was not unexpected. Neither was the fact that Isaias Afwerki openly allied himself with the Saudi led coalition betraying Qatar.

Consequently, Isaias Afwerki has entangled himself in the latest cycle of the region’s quagmire: on one hand, he plunged himself in the rivalry of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahabis, and on the other, into the Sunni-Shia conflict that has been ravaging the region for many decades. No doubt the current misadventure must have offered Isaias Afwerki a tiny window of opportunity to satiate his desperation and slowed his endless search for relevance in the regional politics.

Crystallizing the New Position

The PFDJ’s new position began to be crystallized in September 7, 2017 when Fasil Gebresellasie, the regime’s ambassador to Egypt, was interviewed by an Egyptian website. The ambassador attempted to widen the dimensions of the Gulf crisis by tickling the Egyptian sensitivity regarding the Nile water and the Dam that Ethiopia is about to finish building, by alleging that “Some Western and [Arab] Gulf countries stand behind Ethiopia and support the construction of the Renaissance Dam.”

Given the context of the fomenting crisis in the region, and his government’s position, by “some Western and [Arab] Gulf countries…”  the ambassador meant Qatar and the USA. According to him, both countries are supporting Ethiopia in building the Renaissance Dam to choke Egypt of the Nile waters. Certainly, that cheap pandering by the ambassador doesn’t benefit Eritrea; its only value is simply reiterating his government’s loyalty to the Saudi led alliance, in addition to appeasing the ultra-nationalists among his Egyptian hosts. In addition, it is a continuation of the PFDJ’s relentless attempts to pit Ethiopia and Egypt against each other.

In an interview with the Eritrean government owned television, Isaias Afwerki signaled his intentions targeting of the MB.

In October 7, 2017, Osman Saleh, Eritrea’s foreign minister took the ambassador’s statements one level up when he said, “Eritrea is opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and we do not allow them to come and preach in ERITREA.” He further spiced it up and stated, “Turkey and Qatar support the MUSLIM BROTERHOOD [while] Egypt is fighting them.” He didn’t forget to preempt the reaction of his Middle Eastern audience by adding Israel to the lot and stated, “we are not eager to see countries such as Turkey, Israel, Iran and others to be involved in the region.”

In addition, Osman Saleh affirmed his regime’s position, stating that, “Eritrea is on a solid path as it relates to her relations with the region. we feel we have good relations with Sudan but they [the detractors] are basing their approach by relating it [our position] with our relations with Egypt.”

PFDJ’S New Guise

It is understandable why the Eritrean regime targets the MB, it must kowtow the new policies of its new patrons. Ironically, the Saudi and the UAE have targeted what they consider an Eritrean franchise of the MB which they listed as an organization that supports terrorism. But the world knows that Saudi Arabia is the womb that carried and birthed the Wahabi sect and is its main sponsor. However, the Eritrean regime, true to its reckless nature, would never miss the opportunity to get entangled in such sectarian conflicts that doesn’t benefit Eritrea. It is shortsightedness led the Eritrean regime to target Muslims under the guise of MB while tacitly supporting an alliance led by the mother of Wahabism.

That unprincipled position was illustrated by the regime’s latest move to confiscate Al Diaa, a Muslim community private school in Asmara. This tactic is not new.

In the early 1990s, as it went to war against Sudan carrying South Sudanese rebels, it arrested Eritrean Muslim teachers and closed schools with the pretext of fighting Jihadism. Over two decades later, the arrested teachers are not tried and their whereabouts is unknown.

Incidentally, the Saudi crown prince has been explaining his plans to “finish-off” the Saudi extremists who have wreaked havoc all over the world though he didn’t specifically name Wahabis or MB. Of course, he wouldn’t mention the Wahabis since they are the bedrock of the Saudi regime. Targeting the MB would appease the Wahabi establishment and would buy their unwavering support. Not only the Wahabi preachers, the Saudi and the UAE has bought Isaias as their lieutenant in their second phase of sectarian war after successfully pitting Sunnis against Shias against each other for the last three decades. At this moment, it is premature to make a judgement on how the Saudis will pursue their plans or what exactly the reaction of the entrenched ultra conservative Wahabi sect will be. Yet, the Saudi government reigning on its own extremists would do the world a great help. But there will be more to say on that, very soon.

At this moment, the Eritrean regime has launched its second bout of targeting Eritreans to the do the Saudi bid—Isaias Afwerki has agreed to such plans with the Saudis. Targeting the Muslim institutions is only the start; if given a chance, he will also unleash his aggressive action against the Christian institutions as a cover up.

The unrest of October 31 in Asmara, though started by the Al Diaa school students, it is an Eritrean expression, and it is a national action that has gained overwhelming support from all Eritreans, Muslims and Christians alike–internally, and all over the world. It is possible that the regime may quash the current movement, but it will not be quashed before inspiring more Eritreans to fight for their freedom with resolve. It will certainly not be quashed before watering the seed that would embolden Eritreans to claim their suppressed Eritrean pride. The sense of unity that Eritreans have displayed in supporting the October 31 movement has given free Eritreans a new source of pride and self-confidence.

Disregard of Religious Freedoms

Such has been the manner with which the PFDJ treated all religious institutions since it started to rule Eritrea with impunity. The Jehovah witness, the Pentecostals and the traditional Muslims were its first targets who were arrested and forgotten in the maze of prisons scattered all over Eritrea. It had already laid its hands on all the Awaqaf properties that belonged to the Muslim institutions. Finally, it went to the Orthodox church and arrested its patriarch Abune Antonios who has been under house arrest for over a decade. Having completed a full circle of arrests and intimidation, it has started a new cycle by targeting a private Muslim school in Asmara for confiscation.


Source: Awate

U.S. issues Eritrea security message as protests and gunfire hit Asmara


The United States embassy in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on Tuesday issued a security message to its citizens in the country citing protests amid gunfire.

“The U.S. Embassy has received reports of gunfire at several locations in Asmara due to protests.  The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid the downtown area where protests appear to be more prevalent.

“Streets in the downtown area may be closed, and police continue to maintain a significant presence,” the statement read in part.

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea restricts the travel of all foreign nationals in the country, including U.S. diplomats.

The cause of the protests have been varied. A section of the media said students were out protesting against repression whiles other reports suggested that students were protesting to demand the release of their school head.

Reports indicate that security personnel who were deployed fired shots into the air to disperse the students.
 

The U.S. maintains its travel warning with respect to the country. The September 25, 2017 warning read in part: “The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea restricts the travel of all foreign nationals in the country, including U.S. diplomats.

“These restrictions make it difficult for the U.S. Embassy to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens outside the city of Asmara.”

The brutal dictatorship the world keeps ignoring


On Monday, the United Nations released the results of a year-long investigation into human rights in Eritrea. What it found was horrific. Detailing “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” the U.N. commission of inquiry argued that Eritrea was operating a totalitarian government with no accountability and no rule of law.

“The commission also finds that the violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labor may constitute crimes against humanity,” the report said.

However, it appears the report failed to produce any mainstream outrage. Unlike similar U.N. reports on alleged crimes against humanity in North Korea, or online criticism of human rights abuses in places such as Saudi Arabia or Qatar, the horrific accusations against Eritrea didn’t produce a viral outcry.

Why not? It certainly doesn’t seem to be because of the severity of the accusations. Crimes against humanity are pretty much as serious as you can get, and it’s hard to read the United Nations’ full report and not be shocked.

It’s hard to imagine now, but hopes were initially high for Eritrea in 1993 after it gained independence from Ethiopia after 30 years of civil war. Since then, however, President Isaias Afwerki has clamped down and allowed no room for an opposition. The U.N. report described a Stasi-like police state that leaves Eritreans in constant fear that they are being monitored.

“When I am in Eritrea, I feel that I cannot even think because I am afraid that people can read my thoughts and I am scared,” one witness told the U.N. inquiry.

The system leads to arbitrary arrests and detention, with torture and even enforced disappearances a part of life in Eritrea, the U.N. probe found, and even those who commit no perceived crime often end up in arduous and indefinite national service that may amount to forced labor. Escape is not a realistic option for many: Those who attempt to flee the country are considered “traitors,” and there is a shoot-to-kill policy on the border, the report said.

A drawing provided to the U.N. by an Eritrean torture survivor.
A drawing provided to the U.N. by an Eritrean torture survivor

It’s also worth noting the significant effort and risk put into creating the report: The Eritrean government refused to allow the United Nations access to the country to investigate, so the U.N. team interviewed more than 550 witnesses in third countries and accepted 160 written submissions. Many approached by the United Nations declined to give testimony, even anonymously, citing a justifiable fear of reprisal.

Still, experts don’t seem too surprised at the lack of outrage generated by the report. “Clearly, Eritrea doesn’t capture the imagination, or rouse the conscience of Americans, much in the way North Korea does,” Jeffrey Smith, an advocacy officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, explained. “President Afwerki, while unquestionably a chronic human rights abuser and eccentric despot, isn’t portrayed by the American media in the same way that Kim Jong Un is.”

“North Korea also makes headlines for other reasons — namely its nuclear ambitions and the ongoing threat it poses to regional stability in East Asia,” he added. “Similarly, while Eritrea is certainly a police state similar to North Korea in many ways, it’s largely kept out of the headlines because Africa in general doesn’t feature highly on the agenda of policymakers here in the United States.”

The fact is, while the scope and authority of the U.N. report lent its allegations an added weight, academics and human rights researchers had long written similar things about the Eritrean state without a significant mainstream response in America or Europe.

In 2014, for instance Human Rights Watch called Eritrea “among the most closed countries in the world” and pointed to “indefinite military service, torture, arbitrary detention, and severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and religion.” Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly ranked it as the worst country in the world for press freedom — worse even than North Korea.

“The U.N. report? We knew it already,” said Ismail Einashe, a Somali-British journalist who works with Eritrean migrants. “Too little, too late.”

Despite this, some reports on the country ignore this and focus on another aspect of Eritrea: Its unlikely tourism sector. International isolation, a history as an Italian colony and reported Qatari investment may have made Eritrea a unique if distasteful vacation destination: As one travel blogger put it last year, the capital of “Asmara felt much more like Naples than North Korea.”

Sara Dorman, an expert in African politics at Edinburgh University, doesn’t think much of either comparison.

“I don’t think it’s particularly helpful,” she said of the country’s reputation as the “North Korea of Africa.” At the same time, she stressed that Eritrea really does deserve to be seen as a special case. “As somebody who studies authoritarian regimes elsewhere in Africa, the Eritrean regime’s control over its population is qualitatively different than other African states,” Dorman said, before pointing to features such as the scale of Eritrea’s intelligence service and the practice of punishing entire families for the crimes of one member.

There are plenty of historical arguments for why the world should pay more attention to what’s happening in Eritrea. Former colonial rulers Italy and Britain have an obvious legacy there, and so does the United States, which allowed Ethiopia to incorporate Eritrea with the aim of keeping the U.S. Kagnew Station military base in the country. In addition, Eritrea has a difficult recent history with its East African neighbors: It’s currently under U.N. sanctions for supporting al-Shabab, the Somali Islamist group, and others in the region.

But one important reason to pay attention has become an unavoidable reality for Europe. Eritreans make up a large share of the migrants crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy boats to seek asylum in Europe: More than 22 percent of those who made the journey in 2014 were from the country, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, second only to Syrians. They flee not because of a civil war like that in Syria, but because of the immense restrictions the Eritrean state puts on their lives. As one escaped Eritrean put it, life there is a “psychological prison.”

Despite this, a number of European nations have recently tightened the restrictions on Eritrean migrants, many citing a Danish immigration reportfrom last November that prompted criticism from human rights groups. The European Union is also considering increasing the amount of aid it sends to Eritrea via the European Development Fund. Experts like Dorman hope that the U.N. report may lead some in Europe to reconsider.

“If organizations don’t take note of this report, we really have to wonder about how they make these decisions,” she said.

Still, even if they don’t, the report does have one very vocal audience: The Eritrean government and pro-government media. In a statement published on Tuesday, Eritrea called the U.N. report a”cynical political travesty” that was an attack “not so much on the government, but on a civilized people and society who cherish human values and dignity.”


Source: WP