Eritreans in Holland and Sweden forced to make donations: trouble for Isaias Afeworki

Source: Africa Express

By  on October 27, 2020

Special for Africa ExPress
Cornelia I. Toelgyes
27 October 2020

A new fundraiser in the Netherlands puts the Asmara regime in trouble . For months, the embassy of the former Italian colony accredited in The Hague has been knocking on the doors of Eritrean residents in the Netherlands, forcing them to “voluntary” donations of at least one hundred euros to fight the coronavirus.

Now Stef Blok, Dutch foreign minister, has asked the dictatorship for an explanation. The minister stressed that it is really worrying that Eritrean diplomats are again asking for money from their fellow citizens living in the Netherlands. And finally he added: “I do not rule out possible measures against these actions.

Stef Blok. Dutch foreign minister

Already in 2018, Halbe Zijlstra, the then foreign minister, declared the diplomatic representative in The Hague, the chargé d’affaire of Asmara, Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy, as persona non grata, as the regime insisted on demanding money from members of the Eritrean diaspora in the Netherlands. Blok invited the recipients of the unfortunate requests to send a report to the Public Prosecutor, so that he can open a file.

According to a list that was sent to ARGOS , the Dutch radio station, the regime has already collected more or less 155 thousand euros, partly from supporters and organizations sympathetic to the Eritrean dictatorship, but there are also the names of people who fled from the oppression of the government of Isaias Afeworki. In fact, among the recipients there are many refugees already in possession of regular documents and others still waiting in refugee centers. Some confirmed that they had even received threats: if they did not pay, the families who remained in Eritrea would no longer be able to enjoy food stamps.

Isaias Afeworki, president of Eritrea

Isaias’s troubles don’t end in Holland . Reporter sans Frontières Organization (RSF) filed a complaint for crimes against humanity with the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office for International Crimes against the President of Eritrea and 7 other people, for the extra-judicial arrest of the Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak.

Dawit, imprisoned and in total isolation since 2001 in one of the hundreds of prisons throughout the country, is the longest-detained journalist in the world.

Dawit Isaak, Eritrean-Swedish journalist in jail since 2001

RSF denounced not only Isaias, president of Eritrea since 1993, but also three ministers – the head of the department of Justice, Information and Foreign Affairs, as well as four other people (administrative and security officers).

Journalist and poet of Eritrean origins, with a Swedish passport in his pocket, Dawitt had returned to Asmara to found a newspaper aimed at launching new reforms, strongly supported by the then Minister of Fisheries, Petros Solomon (former Minister of the Interior, then of Foreign Affairs) and by the other 14 “dissidents” also sunk in the regime’s prisons in September 2001. The arrest of the journalist coincides with the request of the “fifteen” to publish the application of the Constitution in the local media, ready but closed in a drawer since 1996.

In these 19 years Dawit has never been allowed to meet his lawyers, much less his family members, representatives of the UN or the Swedish government. The last evidence of existence in life dates back to 2005. He is probably held captive in the Eiraeiro Detention Center, in the middle of the desert of the Northern Red Sea region, where sun-heated containers are used as cells.

Cornelia I. Toelgyes


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