Martin Plaut

Oct 29

The 2017 - 2020 report can be read in full below. It is noticeable that nowhere does the Eritrean government refer to elections. This is required by the African Union Charter.

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There is also no mention of the ratification of the Constitution. It does, however, attack the Tigray People's Liberation Front at every opportunity.


Source: user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">African Union

 Aug 24, 2023

I. Introduction

1.1. Objectives

1. In 2017 Eritrea submitted its Initial and combined National Report on the African Charter covering the period 1991-2016. The Report was discussed during the 62nd African Commission for human and People‟s Rights (ACHPR) regular session (25 April to 9 May, 2018). During the Session the Eritrean Delegation presented a summary of the report and gave oral as well written responses to the questions and observations of the ACHPR.

2. Pursuant to Article 62 of the ACHPR, Eritrea is again submitting the 2017-2020 National Report on the African Charter. The submission has been delayed due to the Corona pandemic and other situations. The Report as usual is coordinated by the MOFA through the inter-sector National Coordination Body (NCB) ensuring the contribution of relevant ministries, institutions and national associations. The following factors have been considered:-
· the conditions, programs and measures taken to respect, protect and fulfill human rights
· the rights and duties as well as the cooperation entailed in Eritrea‟s implementation and observance of its responsibilities under the Charter
· importance of using the Report to further strengthen dignified engagement and cooperation based on partnership with the ACHPR

3. The Report covers the period 2017-2020 and was finalized at the end of 2021 after submissions and comprehensive discussions by relevant sectors and national associations. Due to circumstances however, the Report‟s submission to the Commission has been delayed. The process for the preparation of 2021-2022 periodic report is also starting soon.

Full Report is here:

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Martin Plaut

Oct 24

The full UN Security Council Panel of Experts report can be user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">found here.

These are some of their findings.

The Panel identified three such illegal enterprises that have been operating in
Libya since at least 2021:
(a) The trafficking and smuggling enterprises owned and controlled by the
Zawiyah Network...

The Panel determined that the commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard in Zawiyah, Mohamed Al Amin Al-Arabi Kashlaf (LYi.025), and the commander of the Libyan Coast Guard in Zawiyah, Abd al-Rahman al-Milad (LYi.026), together with Osama Al-Kuni Ibrahim (LYi.029), continue to run a large trafficking and smuggling network in Zawiyah.

Since the two commanders were listed in 2018, they have further expanded that network by including armed entities operating in the Warshafanah, Sabratah and Zuwarah areas. The expanded Zawiyah Network now encompasses elements of 55 Brigade, the Stability Support Apparatus command in Zawiyah, and in particular its maritime units, and individual members of the Libyan Coast Guard, all operating with a view to executing the Network’s common plan of gaining substantive financial and other assets from human trafficking and migrant smuggling activities.

The Network has established an irregular detention system that comprises the Al-Nasr, Al-Maya and Al-Zahra detention centres for migrants, as wells multiple temporary detention places in the areas of Zawiyah and Harsha, where elements of the Network committed serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law against 34 detainees.  This detention system has enabled the Network to exercise physical control of trafficked or smuggled persons for the purpose of gaining financial and other profits for the benefit of its members.

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Source: user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Avvenire

Libya. The UN Security Council confirms sanctions on coastguard traffickers

Nello Scavo Friday 20 October 2023

The tightening of sanctions for the bosses of human beings, oil and arms trafficking was unanimously approved. From the coast guard "Bija" to the heads of the "oil police" up to the director of the "lagers"

In the center the major of the Libyan coast guard al-Milad (Bija) and to his left, in a blue shirt, Mohammed Kashlaf, head of the

In the center the major of the Libyan coast guard al-Milad (Bija) and to his left, in a blue shirt, Mohammed Kashlaf, head of the "oil police" accused of being the head of the criminal organization


Libya is not a safe port of disembarkation, and the direct connections between the Libyan coast guard and traffickers in human beings, oil and weapons are the driving force behind the chain of exploitation and enrichment. The United Nations Security Council unanimously accepted the requests of the UN investigators , who proposed tightening sanctions against the main bosses of a criminal system that brings together politics, militias and clans.

The decision puts the Italian government and the Piantedosi directives in difficulty, according to which humanitarian rescue organizations should first coordinate with the so-called Libyan coast guard, which the UN instead indicates as one of the main mechanisms of the criminal system. 

After a long internal discussion, the Security Council accepted the requests of the UN investigators in Libya, whose mandate was renewed until 2025. The representatives for whom the freezing of assets and the absolute travel ban are requested are five, but one died on March 16 this year in Egypt. 

The other members of the "Libyan poker" are heavy names, starting with Saadi Gaddafi, the ex-footballer son of Colonel Gaddafi, who is trying to sell a property in Canada by circumventing the sanctions also through the Libyan consulate in Turkey. The fifty-year-old Gaddafi would have traveled undisturbed and on 27 June 2023, UN experts wrote to the Turkish government «regarding the implementation of the asset freezing and travel ban measures. No response was received." According to investigators, Gaddafi's signature on a power of attorney filed in Turkey constitutes "proof of Turkey's failure to comply with the travel ban measure".

If the Gaddafis represent the past that continues to loom over Libya, especially due to the enormous legacy left by the dictator patriarch and never truly quantified, the list of those sanctioned includes the new bosses of today's Libya. Like Mohammed Al Amin Al-Arabi Kashlaf . 

"The Group of Experts has established that the Petroleum Facilities Guard of Zawiyah is an entity that is nominally under the control of the Government of National Unity", therefore not a private police in the strict sense but an armed group affiliated to the central authorities and responsible for monitor the main oil plants, from which however a certain quantity of hydrocarbons is illegally disappeared and then placed on the European market thanks to a dense network of smugglers. 

"The group of experts - it continues - has asked the Libyan authorities to provide updated information on the implementation of the asset freeze and travel ban against this individual, including details on the current status and chain of command of Petroleum Facilities Guard in Zawiyah, as well as on his financial activities and personal economic resources." 

Also in this case the Libyan authorities "have not yet responded".

Connected to Kashlaf is Abd al-Rahman al-Milad , perhaps the best known of the clan. Also known as "Bija", he used "forged United Nations documents in an attempt to lift the travel ban and asset freeze imposed on him". However, Bija moved forward, finding support both "in the Libyan government and in private interlocutors within Libya", with the aim of obtaining support "for his request for cancellation" of the sanctions. In particular, UN investigators are in possession of "an official Libyan document, issued on 28 September 2022 by the Office of the Attorney General, in which the responsible authorities are ordered - the experts report - to remove Al-Milad's name from the system national monitoring of arrivals and departures". 

A cover-up at the highest level of the judiciary, which had already acquitted him of the oil trafficking charges, and which "would allow Al-Milad to leave Libya with the assets in his possession, in violation of the asset freezing measure". On 25 January 2023 «the Panel asked the Libyan authorities to provide updated information on the effective implementation of the asset freeze and travel ban against Al-Milad. The request was made following the resumption of his professional duties in the Libyan Armed Forces, including appointment as an officer at the Janzour Naval Academy following his release from pre-trial detention on 11 April 2021." Nine months later, the Libyan authorities "have still not responded".

The resolution approved by the Security Council is also based on another accusation from the «Panel of Experts» who «established that the commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guard of Zawiyah, Mohamed Al Amin Al-Arabi Kashlaf, and the commander of the Guard coastal Libyan Zawiyah, Abd al-Rahman al-Milad (Bija), together with Osama Al-Kuni Ibrahim , continue to operate a vast trafficking and smuggling network in Zawiyah." The sanctions did not hurt them. “Since the two commanders were listed in 2018, they have further expanded the network to include armed entities operating in the Warshafanah, Sabratha and Zuara areas.” Everything revolves around prisons for refugees. « The Zawiyah network continues to be centralized in the Al-Nasr migrant detention facility in Zawiyah, managed by Osama Al-Kuni Ibrahim», Bija's cousin identified thanks to some images published by Avvenire in September 2019. The name he appears in several investigations. Based on «ample evidence of a consistent pattern of human rights violations, the Panel found - the panel added - that Abd al-Rahman al-Milad and Osama al-Kuni Ibrahim continued to be responsible for acts of torture, forced labor and other ill-treatment of persons illegally confined in the Al-Nasr detention centre ", with the aim of extorting "large sums of money and as punishment".

The criminal business model is precisely what Rome does not want to recognize, but which the UN investigators and the Security Council reiterate: «Zawiyah's expanded network - we read in the report - now includes elements of the 55th Brigade, the command of the Stability Support Unit in Zawiyah, particularly its maritime units, and individual members of the Libyan Coast Guard, all working to execute the network's joint plan to obtain significant financial and other resources from human trafficking activities and migrants".

The graph with which UN experts showed the Security Council the criminal system involving members of the Libyan coast guard and human traffickers

The graph with which UN experts showed the Security Council the criminal system involving members of the Libyan coast guard and human traffickers - Panel of UN experts

The Security Council was shown the scheme which includes «four operational phases: (a) the search and return to land of migrants at sea; (b) the transfer from disembarkation points to the detention centers of the Directorate for the fight against illegal migration; (c) the abuse of detainees in detention centers; (d) the release of prisoners who are victims of abuse." Once the migrants are released, they re-enter the cycle of exploitation: put back into the sea, leaving a percentage to be captured by the coastguards to justify Italian and European support for the so-called Libyan coast guard, and again «transfer from the disembarkation points to the centers of detention by the Directorate for the fight against illegal migration; the abuse of prisoners in detention centers; the release of prisoners who are victims of abuse".

The UN report and the unanimous vote of the 15 countries that sit in the Security Council are a slap in the face. «With regards to the travel ban and the freezing of assets - we read in a summary note of the session at the Glass Palace -, the Member States, in particular those in which the designated persons and entities are based, have been invited to report" to the Sanctions Committee on "their respective actions to effectively implement both measures in relation to all persons included in the sanctions list". 

All the exponents indicated by the "Panel of experts" are included in the Interpol "alert" list. The resolution approved yesterday also concerns the smuggling of oil and weapons. The Security Council extended “the authorization of measures to stop the illicit export of petroleum products from Libya and the mandate of the group of experts helping to oversee this process.”


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Martin Plaut posted: " From the Eritrean Seaman Union We, the Eritrean Seaman Union, issue this official statement on 21 October 2023 in response to recent statements made by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed concerning Eritrea's territorial sovereignty and its waters" Martin Plaut


Martin Plaut

Oct 21

From the user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Eritrean Seaman Union

We, the Eritrean Seaman Union, issue this official statement on 21 October 2023 in response to recent statements made by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed concerning Eritrea's territorial sovereignty and its waters in the Red Sea.

Recent developments in the Red Sea region, particularly Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's statements regarding the ownership of the Red Sea, have raised significant concerns for us.

These statements not only raise questions about Eritrea's sovereignty in the Red Sea but also present legal and diplomatic challenges.

It appears that these statements are driven by the aspiration for a 'Greater Ethiopia' and territorial unity in the Red Sea region, potentially compromising both the aspirations of Greater Ethiopia and the sovereignty of the Eritrean Red Sea.

Consequently, we strongly urge all relevant parties to prioritize the sovereignty and well-being of the Eritrean Red Sea.

We emphasize the importance of resolving these issues through diplomatic dialogue, adhering to the principles of international law.

We call for an immediate cessation of any actions that threaten Eritrea's sovereignty.

We sincerely hope that collaborative efforts will lead to a peaceful resolution, in line with international law, and respect the rights of the rightful owners of the Eritrean Red Sea. Eritrean Seaman Union



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Martin Plaut posted: " The Eritrean diaspora is mobilising to get the Norwegian government to act on an official report calling for protection of refugee communities. Protests were held on Friday in Oslo ahead of key discussions in the Norwegian Parliament next week. " Martin Plaut


Martin Plaut

Oct 22

The Eritrean diaspora is mobilising to get the Norwegian government to act on an official report calling for protection of refugee communities.

Protests were held on Friday in Oslo ahead of key discussions in the Norwegian Parliament next week.

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A report commissioned for the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion laid out in detail the attacks on many expatriate communities, including the Eritreans.

The report, user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Transnational repression conceptual clarification and sectoral responsibilities, provides detailed evidence of the measures that repressive foreign governments use against diasporic communities living in Norway.

As the report states:

The purpose has been to strengthen the conceptual understanding of what has been referred to as economic, ideological or religious "pressure and control" against diaspora groups by the authorities of the country of origin or persons who can act on their behalf. In this report, we propose the term transnational repression and a new definition.

The report explains that:

Acts covered by the concept of transnational repression can be grouped into the following main categories:
1) Violence and other attacks against the physical safety of persons
2) Threats
3) Harassment and discrediting
4) Infiltration
5) Restriction or conditional consular services
6) Monitoring
7) Weakening and abuse of international frameworks
Transnational oppression can thus be expressed in many different ways and in different arenas of society. A wide range of different acts and means are used, and these can be subject to a number of different criminal offences.

The report gives details of all of these forms of violence and intimidation before stating that:

It seems that the Norwegian authorities' reaction and response to transnational oppression is currently somewhat characterised by a failure to interpret or frame the problem in a way that adequately reflects the seriousness of the problem.

Time for action

A user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">similar report was produced by the government of the Netherlands in 2016, and led to official attempts to halt the harassment of Eritrean refugee community.

The Norwegian report has been with the Norwegian government since the end of 2022, but little, if any action appears to have been taken to act on its recommendations.

In May a Member of Parliament, user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Ola Elvestuen, asked what the government was going to do to give force to the report's recommendations. He received no satisfactory answer.

Mr Elvestuen is a long-time supporter of Eritrean freedom, who met 300 young Eritrean protesters in September 2022.

In a passionate speech to the Eritreans he explained that he had sent written questions to Minister of Justice. Emilie Enger Mehl.

The answer he received was that the Minister of Justice could do no more than ask Eritreans who had problems to request the police for help.  Mr Elvestuen described this as "weak" and he promised to follow up the matter in the Storting (Parliament).

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It was to get the Norwegian authorities to take action on the recommendations that Eritreans of the "Blue Revolution" gathered outside Parliament this Saturday.

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Next week a proposed 'plan of action' will be put before the Parliament's Justice Committee.

With sufficient backing, their recommendations can be brought to the wider Parliament so that the report can be given teeth, and action taken to halt "transnational repression" against members of many diasporic groups who have made Norway their homes.

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Why war in the Horn of Africa is likely

Monday, 23 October 2023 20:36 Written by


Mon 10/23/2023 12:29 PM

Martin Plaut

Oct 23

War is likely in the Horn. It is just a matter of who, when and over what

By Makeda Saba

I observe the following issues in the Horn of Africa.

The relationship between President Isaias and PM Abiy

Tigray – TPLF unfinished business

 Isaias is unhappy about the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and has made it known that he disapproves.

Isaias is unhappy that twice PM Abiy pulled the ENDF out of Tigray—the first time soon after claiming victory and the second time just before the Pretoria Agreement.


Fano militia – Eritrea backing, arming training. We have seen the videos.

Afar militia in Ethiopia – Eritrea backing, arming, training. They even returned to Eritrea, Eritrean Afar Soldiers fleeing the regime.

Oromo – History of Eritrea support – officially suspended in 2018, but....?  There is no information on any Eritrea Oromo reconnection, but anything is possible in the game of politics of convenience and power. 

Border issues


Bademe may be under Eritrean control, but it is a Kunama area. In recent history (2002), they asked for the protection of the Ethiopian Government. 

The Irob border, a part of the territory, should be handed over to Eritrea as per the Eritrea-Ethiopian Boundary Commission. However, the Irob people in the area want to remain part of Ethiopia; they do not want to be separated. 

Eritrea has closed all the central and Eastern borders
Ethiopia has closed the OmHajer/Humera border to cut off the Fano militia

The border dispute still needs to be resolved, and the Eritrea Djibouti Agreement sponsored by Qatar is not fully implemented.  Critically, to date, Eritrea has not fully accounted for all of the Djibouti POWs.


The hottest border contestation within Ethiopia has to be Welkait – Western Tigray, claimed by the Amhara and the people of Tigray.  Per the Pretoria Agreement, the Amhara Fano militia had to withdraw from Welkait and hand over to the ENDF. This is an outcome the Fano are not happy with, especially since the mechanism for resolving the dispute is stillborn.

Eritrea is keen for the Amhara to hold on to Welkait because it:

Denies Tigray access to Sudan in general and specifically Port Sudan
Provides Eritrea with an even longer border with Sudan
In Ethiopia, there are other internal land and border contestations, such as:

Benishangul – the issue is land taken for the GERD, land assigned to Amhara and other highlanders, without consultation in the 1980s 
External border between Afar and Somali Region
Internal border between Oromia and Somali Region and so on.
 In each case, there is no credible, trusted and independent institutional process to mediate, arbitrate, or adjudicate the disputes.

Ethiopia Sudan – Al Fashiga

The dispute over this border, specifically over the access to very fertile land in the area, is a source of continuous tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan. Within Ethiopia, access to the land in question is primarily of interest to the Amhara. Therefore, the possible annexation by force of arms of Welkait set a precedent for the region that any Sudanese factions could not ignore. 

Water issues 

GERD – Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Nile Basin

Before 2018, Eritrea supported Egypt’s position on the dam. President Isaias even gave an interview from Cairo to the effect that the dam was a big white elephant. After 2018, they flipped in support of PM Abiy, who, before becoming PM, was not supportive of the dam. However, after 2018, the dam became a rallying point for all Ethiopians; hence, PM Abiy flipped.  The dam is still a rallying point for all Ethiopians. Within this story is the mysterious death of the dam engineer – deemed a suicide, but there are sufficient anomalies to cast doubt as to whether it genuinely was suicide. I digress...

 President Isaias seems to have flipped back to Egypt – hence his recent visit to Cairo and flip on the Sudan Coup Generals. He, officially at least, flipped from supporting Hemeti and the Janjaweed to supporting Burhan, whom Egypt supports. Therefore, Eritrea remains a crucial player in the Sudan crisis/ /resolution, but Ethiopia is nowhere to be seen.  

Isaias’s flip to Egypt can be seen as shoring up support in the event of any attempt by Abiy to annex Assab. 

Isaias also seems to have repaired his relationship with Somalia by allowing the repatriation of the Somali soldiers trained in Eritrea. I am sure A three-year training programme included political formation, hence the mastery of how to manipulate and control people; therefore, we should be very cautious about a three-year training programme. 

Omo River – Somalia, Kenya

The water dispute that does not make the news is the one that concerns the Omo River in the South of Ethiopia. In this area, there are dams and water irrigation projects that take minimal to no account of the water needs of the neighbours.

Red Sea – Assab 

There is a deliberate clouding of the issues

Access – is definitively possible. It is an arrangement that Ethiopia already has with Djibouti, Mombasa,  etc...But the devil is in the details because access to Assab will require extensive upgrades ( to international shipping standards) of the port and possibly the area around it. This raised the question of who pays for it. Eritrea will want Ethiopia to spend and expect to profit from the deal from the get-go. It is the arrangement they have with the mining companies. The inability to agree on terms and conditions for access was the source of tension before the 1998-2000 border war started. The same failure to reach an agreement was also the reason the Oil refinery in Assab was closed by Isaias in 1997. 

Possession – This would require that the Eritrean government to hand over Assab to Ethiopia.

The conventional thinking and the thinking of every Eritrean anywhere is that this is not possible because Assab was the first point of the Italian colonisation of Eritrea, and we all want to keep the State of Eritrea as established by the Italian/ Ethiopian Colonial treaties and as it was before the annexation of Eritrea by Emperor Haile Selassie.  

However, we are dealing with people who apply such thinking only if it is convenient to them and their hold of power. Isaias and Abiy have transported us back to the 18th and 19th centuries when taking territory by force of arms was not only legitimate, it was the mark of a leader. In addition, since 2018, we have not learned what PM Abiy and President Isaias have agreed to do because of the total lack of transparency. Hence, it is possible that a secret deal over Assab was reached and is not going as planned because of personal differences between the two leaders.

No War, No Peace 

Based on my outline above, we are returning to No War No Peace.  This suits Isaias as he gets to maintain his iron grip over Eritrea and can fall back on the narrative of “You cannot trust Ethiopians”, switching back from “Tigray” and “Woyane”.  We are already starting to see the Tesfanews, etc, making this switch, calling Abiy on the issue of the Red Sea, and circulating previous videos where Abiy thanked the EDF for their sacrifice and support in Tigray.

We already know President Isaias is comfortable with the No War, No Peace scenario.  The issue will be whether he will allow TPLF and PM Abiy to reconcile. I do not think he will. Hence, he is not pulling out of Tigray (i.e. Ethiopian territory) and will continue to arm and support militias in Ethiopia. 

Abiy staked his reputation on the normalisation of the relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the opening of the border and gaining access to the Red Sea via Eritrea. Therefore, he will not be comfortable with a No War, No-peace scenario and Eritrean troops in Ethiopian territory. 


Another round of war in the Horn is much more likely than we think. Because both leaders:

do not think of power and politics in modern terms. They think of it as did their ancestors during the era of the Princess. Therefore, war is not the failure of politics- it is politics;
have learnt that they can do anything, any horror, and all will be forgiven because their territories have International geo-political and strategic importance.  Post-Tigray war, the US, EU, etc, could not wait to normalise relationships with Ethiopia and the UAE; the Saudis do not care.
President Isaias is actively pushing for a multipolar world and consequently has aligned Eritrea behind Putin over Ukraine. The Russians are looking for a naval base on the Red Sea, and Eritrea will likely allow it. Dahlak Islands were the site of the USSR naval base; though it is in ruins, the site is still there.  

The recent US naval presence in the Red Sea in response to the Palestine conflict is likely to expedite the establishment of a Russian naval base in Eritrean territorial waters. 

The Israeli-Palestine conflict and the failure of the international community to see that what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is wrong and is fast heading to disaster provides the cover of a perfect storm for Abiy and Isaias to create another Horn of Africa war. After all, the US presidential elections and COVID-19 provided cover for the Tigray war.  

As a final point, we should pay attention to who provides which drones to whom.

Ethiopia demands access to the Red Sea

Wednesday, 18 October 2023 20:32 Written by

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Martin Plaut posted: "  Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) stated: “The Nile and Red Sea determine Ethiopia’s future. They will contribute either to its development or demise.” Red Sea takes center stage as Ethiopia looks to assert regional presence Source: The Report" Martin Plaut


Martin Plaut

Oct 14

user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Ethiopian navy

 Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) stated: “The Nile and Red Sea determine Ethiopia’s future. They will contribute either to its development or demise.”

Red Sea takes center stage as Ethiopia looks to assert regional presence

Source: user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">The Reporter

Byuser_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Ashenafi Endaleanduser_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Selamawit Mengesha

October 14, 2023

Ministry crafts nation building, national interest documents

A draft document prepared by the Ministry of Peace has proposed that the current administration should seek to reaffirm Ethiopia’s strategic and economic national interests in the Red Sea. These interests have been of great geopolitical importance to Ethiopia for centuries, until Ethiopia has become landlocked.

Titled “Ethiopia’s National Interest: Principles and Content,” the draft document emphasizes the imperative for Ethiopia to exercise its right to construct and utilize ports, ensure access to the Red Sea, as well as the Eden and Gulf Peninsula regions, and exercise its right to port development and utilization.

The Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region have become a magnet to superpowers competing for their geopolitical, geo-economic, and geostrategic interests, according to the document. Therefore, “Ethiopia should engage with other nations in the area to ensure its access to the ports and be able to overcome geostrategic impediments in this respect, the draft document noted, before such actions start to impede the development of the region,” it states.

The document provides a list of priorities, including the preservation of the country’s territorial integrity, enhancing regional influence, promoting peace and security, effectively advancing Ethiopia’s interests in the Red Sea and Gulf Peninsula area, and fostering pan-African development.

Establishing principled bilateral and multilateral relationships, securing Ethiopia’s right to use the Nile River, ensuring access to ports, and maximizing the utilization of untapped natural resources, are also listed as priorities.

Considering its proximity to the Red Sea, “coupled with its growing population and economy, Ethiopia should promote its security, geopolitical, and economic interests in the red sea.” The document further asserts that the African Union should have ultimate authority over Africa’s water resources, seas and ocean shores.

In a documentary broadcasted on the state television channel last Friday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) stated: “The Nile and red sea determine Ethiopia’s future. They will contribute either to its development or demise.”

The Ministry has produced another draft document titled “Ethiopia’s National Identity and National Values Identification/Decisions.”

This document outlines a new plan for Ethiopia to reconstruct its national identity. It addresses the necessary steps, principles, and approaches required for the implementation of Ethiopia’s revitalized nation-building project at various levels. It emphasizes Ethiopia’s new national identity project on the global stage and suggests the registration of patent rights.

The nation-building document recommends that the envisioned national values incorporate a range of factors, including the country’s diversity and historical heritage.


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Martin Plaut posted: " The demand by Prime Minister Abiy can be found here. President Isaias's official response is below. Discourses – both actual and presumed – on water, access to the sea, and related topics floated in the recent times are numerous and excessive inde" Martin Plaut


Martin Plaut

Oct 16

The demand by Prime Minister Abiy can be found user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">here.

President Isaias's user_email=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">official response is below.

Discourses – both actual and presumed – on water, access to the sea, and related topics floated in the recent times are numerous and excessive indeed.  The affair has perplexed all concerned observers.

In the event, the Government of Eritrea repeatedly reiterates that it will not, as ever, be drawn into such alleys and platforms.  The GOE further urges all concerned not to be provoked by these events.

Ministry of Information


16 October 2023


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Martin Plaut posted: " Comment: Odd that this article does not discuss the Ethiopian government's interest in finding a new naval base for the Ethiopian Navy. Martin Source: Addis Standard September 7, 2023 By Abdi Biyenssa @ABiyenssa Addis Abeba –" Martin Plaut


Martin Plaut

Sep 27

Comment: Odd that this article does not discuss the Ethiopian government's interest in finding a new naval base for the Ethiopian Navy.


Source: Addis Standard

September 7, 2023

By Abdi Biyenssa @ABiyenssa

Addis Abeba – A few months ago, rumors began swirling about Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s efforts to secure a crucial port for the country. It has since been revealed that during a gathering of investors and businessmen, Prime Minister Abiy emphasized the urgent need for Ethiopia to have its own port. He highlighted the astronomical costs associated with depending on neighboring countries’ ports. According to these rumors, the Ethiopian government is considering all options, from negotiation to the use of force, in order to achieve this strategic objective.

The rumor suggests that the Ethiopian government has already started negotiations with key regional players. A proposal has allegedly been presented to Eritrea, offering a 30% stake in the renowned Ethiopian Airlines as a bargaining chip for access to the desired port. These rumors gained traction when Al Jazeera English covered the issue in its recent Inside Story segment. According to Al Jazeera, the Prime Minister stated, “Ethiopia will secure direct access to a port, either peacefully or, if necessary, by force.”

However, the notion of the Ethiopian government demonstrating such intentions seems highly improbable, given that Ethiopia came remarkably close to utilizing Eritrean ports, namely Massawa and Assab, just five years ago when the Prime Minister came to power and sought to mend the hostile relationship between the two nations. In September 2018, the Ethiopian commercial ship named “Mekelle” even docked at the Red Sea port of Massawa, marking the first time in two decades.

The Eritrean Ports Authority was also preparing Assab port to handle Ethiopia’s cargo. In 2019, repairs and maintenance were undertaken at Assab port at a cost of $57 million. The two ports in Eritrea can handle 2.5 million tons of cargo in total.

Nonetheless, the rumors and Al Jazeera’s reporting gained further credibility following recent back-to-back visits by an Ethiopian delegation, led by Alemu Sime, Minister of Transport and Logistics, to neighboring countries such as Kenya and Somaliland.

On 03 August, 2023, Alemu and Ethiopia’s delegation arrived in Hargeisa, Somaliland, to explore additional port options for Ethiopia. They engaged in discussions with Somaliland authorities regarding the possibility of Berbera port serving as an additional avenue for Ethiopian foreign trade. A week after the Hargeisa visit, Alemu and his team proceeded to Kenya to search for alternative ports that would facilitate Ethiopia’s ever-expanding import-export trade.

Despite the recent visits of Alemu and the Ethiopian delegates to neighboring countries, it is the Prime Minister’s alleged declaration of “by any means necessary” that has caught the attention of media pundits, activists, and regional commentators.

Merera Gudina, a professor of political science and international relations at Addis Ababa University, has warned that if negotiations fail to secure a port, war could be the alternative means to gain access. He emphasized that such a strategy would undoubtedly be destructive for the region, which is already known for its instability caused by both state and non-state actors.

Eyasu Hailemichael, a researcher on the Horn of Africa and an expert in international affairs, argues that political leaders are unlikely to publicly declare war to get access to ports due to deliberate state deception and strategic cover-up. However, Eyasu believes that the Ethiopian government’s need for access to the Red Sea could be accepted by Western powers, considering the hostile relationship that exists between Asmara and the West.

There are various speculations about the motives behind the PM’s alleged use of force to gain access to port. Merera raises questions about whether it is to restore his Amhara supporting base or test Western’s support for his regime. He also highlights recent changes in Ethiopia’s foreign policy, which have become more unpredictable, individualistic, and fragmented, adding to the uncertainty.

Merera, who is a leading opposition figure in Ethiopia, also suggests that the war might be a result of Eritrea’s involvement in the Tigray conflict as well as Ethiopia’s shifting foreign policy. Reports indicate that tension is brewing between the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments after the signing of the Pretoria agreement in November 2022, which ended the Tigray war.

Eyasu suggests that it might be a diversion of conflict from domestic to regional issues. “Any effort to forcefully address the question of access to ports will not be easy,” he stated. “Any war with Eritrea could also lead to a violation of the 2018 rapprochements, which will have its own repercussions in the region.”

Expanding port options to accommodate growing trade

Diversifying access to ports is a key element of the Ethiopian government’s 30-year integrated transport master plan, adopted in 2021. Officials argue that expanding port options is economically justified in light of the country’s growing volume of foreign trade. Alemu, speaking in Hargeisa, explained the purpose of his visit, stating, “Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, and as such, the country requires an alternative to Djibouti’s main seaport.”

Ethiopia’s annual foreign trade has been steadily increasing over the past decade, with estimates of around 15 million tons of solid cargo and four billion metric tons of petroleum products. Currently, Djibouti’s ports can handle this cargo. However, it is projected that the volume of foreign trade will more than double in the next decade.

Highlighting Ethiopia’s heavy reliance on Djibouti’s ports, a senior diplomat at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking anonymously to Addis Standard, justified the need for port diversification. Prior to the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998, Massawa and Assab ports accounted for over 75% of Ethiopia’s foreign trade cargo. However, following the war, almost all imported and exported goods were redirected to Djibouti. Currently, close to 95% of Ethiopia’s import-export cargo goes through Djibouti’s ports, with the remainder shipped through Port Sudan and Berbera.

The senior diplomat also emphasizes the mounting costs Ethiopia incurs from Djibouti in the form of port fees and demurrage charges as a valid economic reason for seeking alternative sea access. Currently, Ethiopia pays $2 billion annually in port fees.

Eyasu, a researcher on the Horn of Africa, further explains the challenges faced by landlocked countries, such as long distances, expensive transportation, high transaction costs, isolation, limited access to global markets, and complicated border crossing procedures. He adds, “Additionally, landlocked states with few natural resources rely heavily on transit countries with poor socioeconomic conditions for transportation, making it difficult for them to thrive.”

The logistics sector in Ethiopia currently faces various challenges, resulting in inefficiency in the transportation of goods from the mainland to ports in Djibouti. One significant issue is the extended time it takes to transport goods to the ports, which hinders trade and economic growth. It can take several weeks to transport goods from landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti’s ports, mainly due to poor infrastructure.

Moreover, high transportation costs pose a major challenge to the logistics sector. The long distance between Ethiopia and Djibouti, combined with inadequate infrastructure, leads to increased expenses. Consequently, cargo delays and long waiting times are common at Djibouti and Modjo dry ports.

The Ethiopian government says it recognizes the importance of improving the logistics sector and is implementing various infrastructure development projects, including enhancing the Ethio-Djibouti railway line and constructing new roads and highways.

While in Kenya, Alemu made a promise that Ethiopia would fulfill its responsibility by constructing infrastructure, such as the express road to Moyale. Alemu and his team took the opportunity to inspect the inland waterway port of Kisumu, located in Mombasa, which has the capability to handle up to 300,000 metric tons of cargo annually.

The delegation also reviewed the progress of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor, a crucial infrastructure project expected to play a significant role in integrating Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. Alemu stressed the urgent need for the completion of supportive infrastructure to fully capitalize on the potential of the port.

The geopolitical shift in the Horn of Africa

In addition to economic justifications, experts say that the changing geopolitics in the Horn of Africa play a significant role in Ethiopia’s pursuit of alternative ports. Eyasu stated that the presence of foreign actors in the region has resulted in foreign geopolitical divisions, shaped intra-horn geopolitics, and prompted port diversification. He believes that commercial motivations, proxy wars, transactional diplomacy, and security agreements have all played a role in this process.

Ethiopia’s recent search for alternative ports coincides with the increasing foreign interference in the Horn of Africa, particularly the growing number of foreign military installations in Djibouti. Strategically located on the Horn of Africa, Djibouti has been attracting the attention of several foreign countries in recent years. Currently, 13 countries, including the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey, have a military presence or naval facilities in Djibouti.

The Chinese government has heavily invested in Djibouti’s infrastructure, including the construction of ports, roads, and a railway system. The United States also maintains a significant military presence in Djibouti, with Camp Lemonnier serving as the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa. Djibouti also houses military bases operated by other foreign countries, such as France, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.

“The influx of foreign actors securing the ports of the Horn has led to foreign geopolitical divisions and shaped intra-horn geopolitics through commercial motivations, proxy wars, transactional diplomacy, and security agreements,” explained Eyasu.

The Horn of Africa has witnessed an increase in the presence of Middle Eastern countries in recent years. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has been actively engaged in the region, investing in infrastructure projects and providing financial aid. The UAE has also increased its involvement, established military bases, and invested in ports like Djibouti and Somaliland. Qatar has also been actively involved in the region.

The senior diplomat recounted Djibouti’s actions in 2013, where they obstructed the transportation of goods to Ethiopia, revealing the issue of limited port diversification in Ethiopia. However, he stressed that this event is now unrelated to the small nation and instead part of larger foreign policy endeavors aimed at achieving greater integration in a region plagued by political conflicts and the realpolitik of foreign powers. In light of this, Ethiopia is cautious not to rely solely on Djibouti, opting to avoid concentrating all its resources in one place, as stated by the senior diplomat.

While the presence of foreign countries has brought some economic benefits to Djibouti, it has also raised concerns among countries like Ethiopia regarding their national security. Eyasu emphasizes that neighboring countries can restrict ports and impose measures that hinder communication during military or diplomatic crises. This adds further complexity to the challenges faced by landlocked countries like Ethiopia.

The socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and geographical differences between these countries can significantly impact the efficient use of transport facilities, as noted by Eyasu. “Unrestricted access to the sea is equally essential for the defense and security of landlocked countries.”

Eyasu further elaborates on the challenges faced by landlocked countries, stating that “the challenges faced by landlocked countries are compounded when they are bordered by countries with challenging socioeconomic circumstances.”

Despite the justifications for the search for alternative ports, experts stress that going to war is not viable for Ethiopia. Merera emphasizes the need to enhance cross-border trade among countries in the Horn of Africa. By improving transportation routes and regional economic policies specifically tailored to the coastal regions, positive spillover effects can be expected. Additionally, building stronger people-to-people relations across diverse cultures within the region is crucial for the shared utilization of ports.

The senior diplomat from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggests negotiating with Eritrea and exploring the possibility of a land swap arrangement. Under this proposal, Ethiopia would gain access to the port, while Eritrea would receive agricultural land. Another option entails a joint ownership arrangement of the port between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Echoing the thoughts of both Merera and the diplomat, Eyasu underscores the importance of diversifying port access through multiple avenues. Diplomatic negotiations represent one possible path, while military involvement remains a daunting but viable alternative. However, Eyasu cautions against resorting to military action as it could potentially escalate tensions in an already-conflicted region. Such escalation may lead to a proxy war involving competing Middle Eastern powers, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as traditional powers like the United States and Russia. 

Eritrean Asylum Seeker Stabbed to Death in Israel

Thursday, 28 September 2023 22:07 Written by

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Martin Plaut posted: " Police are looking into the possibility that the victim was an opponent of the Eritrean government and the killer a supporter of the regime Source: Ha'aretz The funeral of the murdered Eritrean asylum seeker in Tel Aviv on Monday. Sep 27, " Martin Plaut


Martin Plaut

Sep 27

Police are looking into the possibility that the victim was an opponent of the Eritrean government and the killer a supporter of the regime

Source: Ha'aretz

The funeral of the murdered Eritrean asylum seeker in Tel Aviv on Monday.

The funeral of the murdered Eritrean asylum seeker in Tel Aviv on Monday.

Sep 27, 2023 1:46 am IDT

An Eritrean asylum seeker was stabbed to death in south Tel Aviv Monday night, and police are looking into the possibility that the victim was an opponent of the Eritrean government and the killer a supporter.

Under this hypothesis, the killing happened during a fight between the two. No suspects have yet been arrested.

Members of the Eritrean community in Israel said the victim was a father of two who wasn’t involved in crime and had been on his way home from work. His funeral was held at a Tel Aviv church on Tuesday.

Juji, one of the leaders of the Eritrean community, said after the funeral that the community demands a thorough police investigation. He added that ever since a massive brawl erupted between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean government in Tel Aviv earlier this month, the community has been living in fear.

“There’s enormous anger among our public, and we’re requesting help from the government and protection from regime supporters,” he said. “We feel afraid and insecure.”

Community members said there have been several incidents involving violence between regime supporters and opponents in Tel Aviv since the mass brawl, and people on both sides said they’re afraid to venture into certain parts of the city lest they be attacked. There have also been many violent incidents between the sides in the past, including a brawl in 2020 that ended with three regime opponents stabbing a regime supporter to death.

Almost 200 people were wounded in the mass brawl, in which the sides clashed not only with each other but with the police. Those clashes began when regime opponents vandalized a hall in Tel Aviv where the Eritrean Embassy had been planning to hold an event.

Dozens of Eritreans were arrested and then placed in administrative detention, meaning detention without trial – some without having been brought for a bail hearing first, and many without having legal representation in court. However, most were later released due to a lack of evidence against them.

Israel has granted collective protection to the 18,000 Eritreans living here, recognizing that even though it maintains diplomatic relations with Eritrea, the asylum seekers can’t be sent home due to their country’s dictatorial government. President Isaias Afwerki has ruled Eritrea since it acquired independence from Ethiopia in 1993.

Human rights organizations say that only a small percentage of these asylum seekers are regime supporters.

Martin Plaut

Sep 27

Source: Zeit

Updated September 23, 2023, 6:05 p.m 139 comments

Violence at Eritrea festivals: Eritrean soldiers march during Independence Day celebrations in the capital Asmara in May.

Eritrean soldiers march during Independence Day celebrations in the capital Asmara in May. © J. Countess/​Getty Images

No violence! He repeatedly impressed upon his group this, says Amanuel Zeru. When the situation escalated, he fell to his knees, his arms spread out like a cross, and some of his fellow soldiers did the same. They wanted to demonstrate peacefully against the regime that forced them to flee their homeland of Eritrea . And against those compatriots who continue to remain loyal to the dictatorship from Germany.

On July 8, thousands of supporters of the dictator Isayas Afewerki traveled to Giessen for the “Eritrea Festival,” an annual event that pays homage to the regime of the small East African country and raises money. Zeru and other opposition members wanted to prevent the event - not all of them only by peaceful means. Zeru later told ZEIT that no one in his group was armed But others had stones and bottles in their hands.

At the end of that day, the police in Giessen recorded several clashes in the city, over 100 arrests and 26 injured police officers. Amanuel Zeru also ended up in police custody.

In August there was violence at Eritrea festivals in Stockholm and Toronto, at the beginning of September in Tel Aviv, and a few days ago, on September 16th, there were again riots in Stuttgart on the occasion of an event close to the regime. Amanuel Zeru was not there. But again, numerous police officers were injured. “Foreign conflicts must not be fought in our country,” said Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD). The violent perpetrators must “feel the full severity of criminal law and immigration law,” said Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU). Statements that are intended to calm a rightly outraged public. The only question is: who brought this conflict to European and German soil?Newsletter

Eritrea is a small country in the Horn of Africa, its area is approximately the same as that of East Germany. In 1993, Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia after decades of war. The leader was Isayas Afewerki. The freedom hero soon turned out to be a despot. Afewerki, now 77 years old, has been president for 30 years without ever giving his people the opportunity to vote again. He turned Eritrea into a police state and introduced a "national service". It lasts six years or half a lifetime; Men and women can be drafted again at any time to perform forced labor or go to war. The fear of being attacked by larger countries has long since turned into a policy of permanent aggression.This article comes from ZEIT No. 40/2023. You can read the entire issue here.

Around a million Eritreans now live outside their home country. That's almost one in five. In Germany there are around 80,000. And almost everywhere in the diaspora there are two groups: on the one hand, those who left the country before it became independent. For them, Afewerki remains the hero of the freedom struggle; they celebrate their homeland in clubs, for example organizing themselves in the "Central Council of Eritreans in Germany", which organizes the Eritrea Festival in Giessen and is also connected to the event in Stuttgart. Similar events take place all over the world.

On the other hand, there is the growing number of young exiles like Amanuel Zeru, who now make up the majority in the Eritrean foreign community. For them, Afewerki is the dictator who forced them out of the country along the long sub-Saharan route, first to Sudan, then to Libya, then across the Mediterranean to Europe. To avoid national service, Amanuel Zeru came to Germany via this route at the age of 14. Many die while fleeing or are kidnapped and mistreated by smugglers in order to extort more money. In Germany, most Eritreans receive subsidiary protection; the recognition rate was recently 84 percent.

The conflict between the two camps has been escalating for years. Not only, but especially around the Eritrea Festival in Giessen. The event has been taking place in the Hessenhallen since 2011, accompanied by peaceful protests from the opposing side - until these escalated for the first time in 2022. Around 100 people broke away from the counter-demonstration and attacked helpers and festival guests as well as police officers with iron bars, knives and stones. 33 people were injured, the police spoke of an "excess of violence" and the festival did not take place.

Stuttgart: Police officers surround a group of participants during riots at an Eritrea event on September 16th. © Jason Chepljakov/​pa/​dpa

In mid-May, two months before this year's riots, Amanuel Zeru sits in the train station café in a medium-sized city and tells how his cell phone rang one night at the end of April. Amanuel Zeru bounces his legs, constantly plays with his car keys, and looks at passers-by. A few weeks earlier, he had tried to prevent the concert of an Eritrean pop star who is said to be close to the regime. He wanted to persuade the operator of the concert hall to cancel. Amanuel Zeru believes that word has got around in circles loyal to the regime. Hence the late night call. On the other end: the man known in the exile community as "Bob."

Zeru documented the call, so the conversation went like this:

Bob: "Look, I know where you live. You have two kids, think about them."

Amanuel Zeru: "Don't talk about my children!"

Bob: "One bullet from an Albanian is enough. I'll make sure you end up in a wheelchair."

Since then, says Amanuel Zeru, he has avoided leaving the house in the evenings.

If you talk to opposition Eritreans in Germany, the name "Bob" is always mentioned when they report threats and gangs of thugs. Also in ZEIT 's conversation with an opposition Eritrean in exile in Kassel, who stated that men asked him on the street a few days after the 2022 Eritrea Festival whether he had been involved in the protest against the festival. They then tried to pull him into a minibus. The man filed a complaint, as did another exile who was apparently threatened by the same group shortly afterwards. He also stated that he had previously received a threatening call from “Bob”. After two months, the Kassel public prosecutor's office stopped the investigation: "A perpetrator could not be identified," she wrote.

The name "Bob" is also mentioned when exiles talk about a group that allegedly acts in the service of the regime abroad: Eri-Blood.

The organization is not registered in any association register, there is no clubhouse, no board of directors. But there are many alleged attacks on dissidents. A 2017 study, commissioned by the Dutch Foreign Ministry, mentions arson in Sweden and spying attempts in the Netherlands. Suspected Eri Blood members also drove cars into groups of people in Norway and Italy. The study describes Eri-Blood as the "militant wing" of the only authorized party in Eritrea, Afewerki's "Popular Front for Democracy and Justice."

Members of the Central Council of Eritreans in Germany, a kind of umbrella organization for pro-regime associations, referred to Eri-Blood as "our security guards" at an internal event last year, a recording of which is available to ZEIT. The association's board did not want to comment on this to ZEIT.

During the Eritrea Festival in Giessen in July 2023, the Hessian YouTuber Joachim Schaefer approached men at the gate to the exhibition center who acted like security forces but were clearly not part of the official security company. In the video, Schaefer asks the men if they belonged to Eri-Blood. On their black T-shirts there is a red "52", which could stand for the fifth and second letters in the Latin alphabet, for "E" and "B", possibly a code for Eri-Blood. The men avoided Schaefer's questions.

A man in his 50s also appears in his video, with a silvery beard, a stern look, a bright voice, and he is missing one front tooth. He appears dominant; you get the impression that the men in the black T-shirts are listening to him. “What’s the problem with celebrating a dictator?” he asks in the video. When Schaefer released his film two days later, he received a call from the man complaining. The number is the same as the threatening call to Amanuel Zeru. The man in the video is apparently "Bob". By the time of going to press, ZEIT had attempted to contact “Bob” several times at this cell phone number. Without success.

“Bob's” real name is known in the diaspora: Neamin Bereket M. ZEIT asked various Hessian security authorities about possible investigations and their level of knowledge about Eri-Blood and “Bob's” role. The tenor of the answers: Nobody knows anything about the structures of the regime in Germany. So far, there are no “specific facts known in which there were threats or physical attacks by supporters of the Eritrean regime against opposition members,” says the Hesse State Criminal Police Office.

Why does a poor country in the Horn of Africa need a thugs in Europe? Why is it so intent on controlling its diaspora? Because it's worth it. The CIA estimates that almost a third of Eritrean gross domestic product comes from diaspora remittances.

Israel: Girls play in an Eritrean community center in Eilat. Thousands of Eritreans live in Israel. There were riots in Tel Aviv in September. © Laetitia Vancon/​NYT/​Redux/​laif

The central flow of this foreign currency, which is valuable for the dictatorship, is the “diaspora tax”: two percent of the annual net income of Eritreans abroad – for life. Those loyal to the regime pay them voluntarily, while opponents of the regime have to pay them if they want to use embassy or consulate services. The diaspora tax has been officially banned in Germany since 2011.

Amanuel Zeru refuses to help finance the regime he fled. That's why he applied for German citizenship after 16 years in Germany. Because the immigration authorities required proof of Eritrean identity, he would have had to go to the consulate general or the embassy. Zeru refused, and the authority requested a written statement. He presented it in 2019. Nothing has happened since then, he says.

“Eritrea is doing a lot to control its diaspora,” says Marcel Kasprzyk. "And German authorities are doing little to counter this." The Frankfurt lawyer with a focus on migration law represents numerous refugees from Eritrea. As a rule, according to Kasprzyk, refugees arrive in Germany without papers. Some never had them, others had them taken from them while they were fleeing, others lost them or destroyed them to avoid being sent back to Eritrea. By requiring official Eritrean identity proof for naturalization, permanent residence permits, family reunification or marriage, the German authorities are forcing refugees back into the arms of the regime. And that, says Kasprzyk, requires not only money, but also penance.

"Taesa" is the name of the declaration of repentance that opposition Eritreans have to sign at the embassy or consulate general. ZEIT has the original and an English translation of the document. In it, the refugees have to reveal private data and explain in detail how they escaped. And they must sign that they regret violating their “national duties” and will accept “appropriate measures.” They will only find out what happens to them if they return to Eritrea at some point. "The Taesa hangs over them like the sword of Damocles," says Marcel Kasprzyk, the lawyer.

In October 2022, the Federal Administrative Court ruled that it was unreasonable to put those seeking protection in such a situation. An important judgment, says Kasprzyk. But the responsible authorities are slow to change their practices.

Other countries are taking more decisive action. For example, in 2018, the Netherlands expelled a high-ranking Eritrean diplomat because refugees continued to be forced to pay the diaspora tax.

Amanuel Zeru is now waiting for further news from the police. A week before the festival in Gießen, he received a “threat speech” because he was already there in 2022 when the protests against the festival escalated for the first time. The official note said he should stay away from the demonstration this time: “Avoid any further potentially criminal behavior!”

After his arrest in July 2023, he sat in a cell for 24 hours. He cried, he says, because the regime was drinking and dancing outside - and because he feared for his residence permit. He has not yet heard anything from the Giessen police, who are now investigating 125 cases on suspicion of bodily harm and breach of the peace.

In response to a request from ZEIT, the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Hesse said it was currently examining in detail "the extent to which anti-constitutional efforts are emanating from individual people and/or groups of people with a connection to Eritrea." It remains unclear whether this refers to the opposition members who network across Europe or groups close to the regime such as Eri-Blood.

Two weeks after the Eritrea Festival in Giessen, Amanuel Zeru took part in a meeting of hundreds of opponents of the Eritrean dictatorship in Hanau, some of whom came from the USA and Australia. For Zeru it was an important event; he hopes that the younger generation, the dictator's opponents, will soon set the tone in the diaspora. On the eve of the meeting in Hanau, around 20 men attacked a meeting point of the Eritrean opposition in Frankfurt. They broke windows and car windows. The police are investigating.