Source: Human Rights Concern – Eritrea

7 September 2023

Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have fled to escape from severe human rights violations amounting to crimes against humanity, as has been documented by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

Eritreans continue to flee indefinite military conscription, religious persecution, and political repression, and seek asylum across the world. 

Those who remain in Eritrea live in a climate of fear, oppression, and with severe restrictions on their daily lives, including on the right to food, to move, and to assemble. 

Those who have managed to flee the country still face intimidation and extortion from the representatives of the Eritrean government abroad. They have family members who are still in Eritrea, and who remain vulnerable. They are directly impacted by the activities of Eritrea’s embassies in the respective countries that they live in. These activities include extortion, and threats and intimidation aimed at preventing mobilized and organized opposition against the draconian policies of the Eritrean Government. 

The Eritrean Government, through its diplomatic missions, has for a long time, engaged in suppressing diaspora activism through transnational repression, aimed at deterring, silencing, and punishing those engaged in the struggle for human rights. 

Most Eritreans in the diaspora are survivors of human rights abuses at the hands of the Eritrean Government who have managed to escape and secure safety in Western democracies. Many are desperate to use their newfound freedom to voice their concerns over the continued human rights abuses affecting their families, and Eritreans in general, including by raising awareness about the Eritrean Government abuses and calling on host countries’ governments and international institutions to pressure the regime in Eritrea to stop these violations.

Meanwhile, the Eritrean Government, through its agencies and embassies abroad, has continued to target diaspora activists, going so far as using their supporters to threaten their physical safety. Eritrean Embassies and other representations abroad have been utilized, predominantly, to surveil and monitor the activities of Eritrean asylum seekers and the regime’s opposers, refusing consular services, controlling, indoctrinating and extorting. 

Crucially, Eritrean Embassies also regularly organize political community events aimed at raising badly needed foreign currency. These regularly held community and cultural events are critical for the Eritrean Government to garner popular and financial support. 

It is worth pointing out that, the money generated from such ‘community and cultural events’ is never used to benefit the communities, but is siphoned off into government’s coffers and used to empower the regime to maintain its grip on power and continue repressing the Eritrean people inside the country.

Many of those who participate in these events are asylum seekers who claim to have escaped repression at the hands of the Eritrean regime and sought protection from their host countries. They are essentially supporting the very regime they sought protection from.

Against this backdrop, many diaspora activists have started working to ensure the so-called ‘community and cultural events’ that are organized by the Eritrean Embassies are stopped. To this end, they have alerted host countries’ governments asking them to reject requests for permits for such ‘community and cultural events’, and in many instances they have succeeded. 

The Eritrean Government has responded to such efforts by Eritrean diaspora activists by encouraging violent response, going as far as to organize and arm its loyalists. 

The recent violence in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the response from the Eritrean Embassy in Israel, has demonstrated that the Eritrean government intends to pour gasoline on the fire by denying that those opposed to it are Eritreans. The truth is that everyone opposing or supporting the Eritrean government in Israel are Eritreans who fled persecution, and who took risks to trek a dangerous and perilous journey from Eritrea to Israel to seek asylum and protection. It is appalling to see those who have claimed persecution supporting the very regime that persecuted them and that continues to violate the rights of the entire Eritreans inside the country.

It is also worth pointing out that the Eritrean Embassy in Israel has hired lawyers to represent its loyalists who partook in the recent violent clashes in Tel Aviv, while calling the activists on the other side ‘hooligans’ and ‘motley group’.

While condemning the violence, it is also imperative to remind host countries, and in this instance the Israeli Government, to appreciate what the root cause is, and who the genuine asylum seekers are. The Eritrean Government through its embassies and agents should not be allowed to intimidate, extort, and threaten Eritreans who have fled its draconian rule in the very places they have sought protection in. 

We also call on host countries to enforce their asylum laws against those who explicitly provide material and political support to the very regime they claim to have fled from. ——
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.+44 7958 005 637