Opposition Calls for International Solidarity with Eritrea After Rare Protest

By Wim Brummelman

Note: This report, based on an interview with a representative of the opposition Freedom Friday (‘Arbi Harnet’) in Asmara, Eritrea, was first published in the Dutch newspaper NRC on 7 November 2017. Following is its unofficial translation by Klara Smits. – The Editor.

AMSTERDAM (IDN-INPS | NRC) – The banned Eritrean opposition is asking the international community to pay attention to the continuing repression in Eritrea. “Foreign countries must send observers to find out what is happening here,” said an opposition member speaking over the phone from the Eritrea’s capital city Asmara.

This most recent plea for help follows the crackdown of security troops in Asmara, during the protest against the plans of the government to restrict Islamic, Catholic and other private schools. When a group of about a hundred protesters, mainly students, gathered close to the government centre on October 31, the crowd was dispersed with batons. Gunshots were heard and an unknown number of people were arrested. The U.S. embassy warned that protests, including those peaceful in nature, could easily escalate into violence.

According to the researchers of the UN, human rights in Eritrea are routinely violated. Overt protests in the streets of Asmara are a rarity and therefore, the recent protest attracted attention, especially among the opposition activists in the diaspora. Protests have been held at Eritrean diplomatic representations in various European and North American cities: Stockholm, London, Bergen (Norway), The Hague, Paris, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin, Melbourne, Rome, Washington DC, and New York,

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