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Not so fond farewell to Eritrea

ICC Note

Eritrea is one of the top Christian persecuting countries. This article by BBC gives some ideas on human rights violations in that country.

By Peter Martell

March 10, 2008 Eritrea (BBC News) – Deep inside the tall towers of Eritrea ‘s Ministry of Information, the battle-scarred war veteran leaned towards me across his desk.


“Why,” he said, spluttering with rage, “do you say we silence critics?”

The former rebel, now a top official in the information ministry, was angry because I refused to name two ex-freedom fighters I had quoted expressing disillusionment at life in Eritrea today.

“You will not work again, until you tell us the names of the people,” he added.

Given Eritrea ‘s grim record for jailing its critics, I declined politely to reveal the names. I was then made to surrender my work permit.


Bitter border war


So you might think that it would not be controversial to report that some Eritreans are pessimistic about the future.

It is, after all, a common complaint in a country where military police prowl the streets, religious minorities are jailed – some sealed in shipping containers for months – and where the young are drafted into national service.


Thousands flee the country, despite a shoot-to-kill policy across the border to Ethiopia or Sudan .

Eritrean citizens were the largest nationality to seek asylum in the UK in 2006, a trend mirrored in several other nations across Europe .

Press freedom


All independent media was closed in 2001.

The journalists’ rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Eritrea just below North Korea as the worst nation in the world for press freedom.

I was closely watched by security informers, my telephone was tapped and papers would mysteriously move or vanish from inside my locked apartment.

But the treatment was nothing compared to that meted out to several Eritrean journalists.

RSF says they were tortured in a desert prison.

On the wall of an interrogation room, a message had been scrawled: “If you don’t like the message, kill the messenger.”


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