Asmara, 07 September, 2022 / 7:10 pm (ACI Africa).
The Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and the Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRCE) have expressed concern about the “misreporting” of the protests, which asylum seekers and refugees from Eritrea participated in outside the Eritrean Embassy in London, the United Kingdom on Sunday, September 4.
In a report published Tuesday, September 6, CSW and HRCE officials say they “are concerned at the misreporting of events surrounding a counter protest by Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers against a pro-government gathering outside the Eritrean Embassy in London which was forcefully dispersed by police on 4 September.”
They lament, “Those dispersed and arrested have been described in several media reports as being ‘a mob’ and ‘rioters’, amid claims that they clashed with police officers.”
CSW and HRCE officials explain that the counter protesters were demonstrating against what they describe as “the long arm” of Eritrea’s ruling party when “supporters of the Eritrean regime, many of whom have sought asylum in other nations disingenuously,” launched an attack.
They add, “According to a reliable source who was at the protests, the government supporters were already outside the venue in full force at around 1.30pm, and some were armed with bottles and wooden canes. They launched an attack on counter protestors as they were slowly gathering, injuring three people prior to the police arriving.”
The statements and songs of the Eritrean government supporters on September 4, Elizabeth Chyrum adds, “were deliberately inciting and designed to provoke a response.”
“It is not the first time that regime supporters have targeted individuals and groups with violence in the UK,” Ms. Chyrum further says, adding, “This makes it all the more unfortunate that the police, who did not understand what was being said and sung, unwittingly sided with supporters of a corrupt dictator and war criminal by dispersing and arresting those who were standing for truth and justice in such an unnecessarily heavy-handed manner.”
On her part, CSW Head of Advocacy and Africa and Middle East Team Leader, Dr Khataza Gondwe, provides background information about the Eritreans who were “forcibly dispersed and arrested”.
“The counter protestors are genuine refugees and asylum seekers”, Dr. Gondwe says, adding that many of them fled the Northeastern African nation “after experiencing torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and most endured unspeakable cruelties during their search for a place of refuge”.
The family members of the counter protestors in the UK “are either being forcibly conscripted regardless of age or ability, or are being deprived of their homes and belongings, along with every possible means of livelihood and source of assistance”, CSW’s Head of Advocacy and Africa Middle East Team Leader is quoted as saying in the September 6 report.
She further laments in reference to the Eritrean counter protestors, “It is deeply lamentable that in a free and democratic society, they were the ones who were forcibly dispersed and arrested, while those who initiated the violence were able to continue their incitement and hate speech.”