A colony for 50 years, federated , Unified to Ethiopia , in 1991's seceded after three decades of rebellion. Since 1998 Eritrea is at War, harboring proxy warriors especially the notorious Al- Shabab. Torture ,imprisonment , thousands fleeing, no religious freedom , the only university is closed, everybody is in the army, No Parliament, No election, No functioning institution, No free press & all living journalists are in prison. Eritrea is called the North Korea of Africa.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Eritrea Still Violating UN Resolutions-UN Monitoring Report:
The Eritrean regime is behind a “clandestine exercise” of a “criminal networks” to smuggle weapons and people out of Eritrea and once the “migrants are routinely taken hostage, tortured, raped or killed” with their kidnappers demanding up to $40,000 in ransom, it facilitates the negotiations and mediation to manage the exchange of funds for people. The Eritrean regime also “remains a destabilizing influence throughout much of the region” and “continues to violate resolutions 1844 (2008) and 1907 (2009) by deploying Ethiopian armed opposition groups via Somali territory” as well as hosting Ethiopian opposition groups such as Tigray People’s Democratic Movement (DemHit), concludes the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, in a report it submitted on June 27, 2012.
The Monitoring Group also reports that the so-called “rehabilitation tax” imposed on Eritreans in the Diaspora is still “routinely” being collected using “threats, harassment and intimidation against the individual concerned or relatives in Eritrea.”
The report, which has been viewed by awate.com, attributes the decline of Eritrean support for Somalia’s al-shabab to three factors: (a) friction between the leadership of the terrorist group and the Eritrean regime; (b) military setbacks of Al-Shabab and (c) international scrutiny of the Eritrean regime.
The Monitoring Group also reports that some members of the Ethiopian armed rebel group Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF) who had conducted the deadly raid on European tourists in January of this year had “recently been based at a training camp near Assab, Eritrea” and all but rules out ARDUF’s claims that those who were killed were killed by Ethiopia.
With respect to Djibouti, the Monitoring Group says that after more than “three years of detention in Eritrea” (in Shabay Mandar, near Afabet) two Djibouti prisoners of war escaped from Eritrea, and were registered by Sudanese border posts at Qarora, placing in question the Eritrean regime’s position that the conflict is a “fabrication” and there was no conflict and therefore no prisoners of war.
Regarding April’s Ethiopian military foray into Eritrea,the Monitoring Group reports that the target appears to have been the Ethopian opposition group DemHit (the Tigray People’s Democratic Movement.)
The Monitoring Group addresses the issue of arms embargo on Eritrea’s military readiness by citing the case of the Eritrean air force:
The Monitoring Group has been able to determine that the Eritrean air force fleet currently includes 22 fixed-wing and 7 rotary-wing aircraft. Of these, only 7 are currently known to be operational. The Monitoring Group believes that the remainder are currently non-serviceable.
The Monitoring Group recommends that the governments of Egypt, Eritrea, Israel and Sudan testify to the UN regarding the arms and human smuggling managed by General Manjus; that the Security Council should remind Member States of their obligation to prevent the Eritrean regime from “using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means” to collect the Diaspora tax; that the Eritrean regime be mandate to disclose its revenues from mining and that it provide information on Djibouti prisoners of war to the International Red Cross or to Qatar which is allegedly mediating the dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea.
Below is Annex 2.2 Testimony of victims of the Eritrean regime’s human smuggling campaign.
Trafficking of arms and people — testimonies
1. Of 1,300 testimonies, 61 were from Eritreans who identified the names of Rashaida smugglers. The following are sample testimonies that illustrate either links to Eritrean officials, arms trafficking and/or abuse at the hands of traffickers.
May 2012: Combined arms and human trafficking
2. I left the Israeli prison two weeks ago after spending two weeks in a camp in the Sinai. I was held there by two Bedouin smugglers called Mohamed and Mustafa.
3. I was in Shegara refugee camp in Sudan when they kidnapped me. I had only been in the refugee camp for two weeks. The ones who have been there longer don’t fall for the trap.
4. Some Rashaida came into the camp saying: “Come quickly, come with us, there is work …” A few of us followed them and suddenly they jumped on us and forced us into cars. There are Rashaida in both Eritrea and Sudan — there’s really no border for them — and there are words the Rashaida speak that we all understand.
5. I was taken to a place in Kassala and held there. There were four guards —different ones every day. There was one guy controlling everything, the big boss, but I only saw him once and I didn’t catch his name.
6. From there, we were taken to the border with Egypt. We were two cars with 15 people in each — we were stuff in together. There were Kalashnikovs, RPGS and grenades in both cars.
7. They put in as many weapons as they could fit around us and some in the boot [trunk] of the car. These weapons came with us all the way to Sinai. I don’t know where they were from but they were very new. The Bedouin were armed with Kalashnikovs – sometimes they would fire them in the air while they were driving.
8. It was impossible to know how many weapons there are but I knew there were at least two RPGs because I saw the heads of them.
9. We switched cars two times on the way to Sinai. The first switch was a handover from the Rashaida to the Bedouin, after a two-day drive from Kassala. The second time we were delivered to Mustafa and Mohamed.
10. Then we were put in a big truck and the weapons followed us in another smaller car. We drove for two days and two nights then we met up again with the smaller car with the weapons and drove down a hill directly into Sinai.
11. We were held in the camp in the middle of a big open area in the desert. There was a compound of a few houses spread out that belonged to the smugglers.
12. Mustafa holds people in two places — I was in a camp with 60 others. I don’t know how many people were in the other place but I know that 17 people who arrived at our camp were sent on there. All of us were from Eritrea. There was a house that we would call “the weapons house”. We could see from our building men would walk into this house empty handed and leave with weapons.
13. I had to pay a fee to leave but only the regular smuggling fee $3,100. I was lucky. I heard that the people who were taken from our group were sold for a lot of money so they could be ransomed.
14. Mustafa is about 45 and Mohamed more like 40. They are very rich and have a lot of very new cars; Toyota pick-up trucks.
15. Mohamed only spoke Arabic but Mustafa could stutter a few words of Tigrinya. All of the rest of them only spoke Arabic. Except every two to three days a man called Abu Mohamed would come and try to buy people for around $20,000-$30,000. I think he would buy them for about that much and then hold them to ransom for $50,000. If they couldn’t pay, they would take their organs.
16. The Eritreans who were there before us told us that the Bedouin had threatened them that they would be killed for their organs and that is what was happening to the others.
17. Abu Mohamed speaks Tigrinya. Sometimes he would speak to Mustafa in Tigrinya just so that we could understand the horrible things they were intending to do to us.
18. I left Sudan on 1 April 2012 and arrived in Israel on 1 May 2012.
March 2012: Abuse of hostages (1)
19. I am 22 years old and I am from the village of Digesa in Eritrea. I arrived to Israel on March 3, 2012 and was put in the Israeli prison. I was released from the Israeli prison on March 22, 2012.
20. I left Eritrea on April 2, 2011 to Adi Harish Refugee Camp (near May Aini Refugee Camp) in Ethiopia. In Eritrea, I was forcibly recruited to Sawa military training base against my will. I left the country illegally to escape these harsh conditions. If I am returned to Eritrea, they will imprison me, torture me, and maybe even kill me.
21. I stayed in Adi Harish for two months and then I went to Shagarab Refugee Camp in Sudan. I stayed in Shagarab for approximately 3 days and then I moved to Khartoum, Sudan. My plan was to stay and live in Khartoum in Sudan. Unfortunately, I only stayed in Khartoum for 2 months.
22. In August 2011, when I was working in cleaning in Khartoum, Sudanese of the Rashaida tribe kidnapped me from my workplace and brought me to Kassala in Sudan. I spent 2 weeks in Kassala, locked up and guarded. We were a group of 28 people, including 4 women. After two weeks, we were put in 2 pickup trucks. They told us that we had to pay 120,000 Nakfa (Eritrean currency) which equals 3,000 US dollars. They told me I had to pay this money in order to be taken to Israel and that this was the only option to be released from the kidnappers. Before this point, I had never even thought of going to Israel.
23. We were forced to travel 3 days with the Sudanese (Rashaida) smugglers. After 3 days, we were told to get out of the cars. One Rashaida smuggler with a weapon walked with us 20 minutes at night (to the other side of a hill) and we were met by Bedouin smugglers that took control of us from the Rashaida smugglers. We walked a few minutes and then we were forced to board 2 small boats, we travelled on the water for 3 hours. Each boat was guarded by one Bedouin smuggler and they had one weapon. After 3 hours, we got off the boats and walked for a bit. We were told to wait under a mountain until cars came to get us. No cars came and we spent the night and the next day in this place guarded by the armed Bedouin smugglers.
24. During the evening hours of the next day, 2 pickup trucks picked us up and we drove for 3 hours. We were then transferred to one large truck that had a canvas back. We travelled for one day and one night and then were transferred to 2 pickup trucks. We were in the 2 pickup trucks for several hours and then we were transferred again to another large truck with a canvas back. We were on this truck for one day and one night.
25. After we came down from this truck, we were put in a room made from wood from trees. At 4 in the morning, 2 pickup trucks came and drove us for four hours. Each time we switched vehicles, the smugglers (who had weapons each time) changed. After four hours, we found ourselves in the house of the armed Bedouin who had been with the group in one of the pickup trucks for the last four hours.
26. We were held in a room with a garage door that came down and locked us inside. We stayed in this place for one night and in the morning they took us out of the house. We walked 50 meters from the house and they put us in a room that was underground. When I was walking, I saw many very nice houses around me, but this was the nicest house and it was the only one with two floors. We were that same group of 28 people (including 4 women) that had left Kassala, Sudan.
27. We were followed into the room by the armed smuggler as well as several armed men that were holding a big chain. They were 6 men all together that were guarding us. They shackled each of us and they covered our eyes. Each of the 6 smugglers had a plastic pipe filled with wood and iron. Since our eyes were covered, we never knew when we would be the one to be beaten. When they were beating us, they began to demand that we pay 30,000 US dollars.
28. Every day they would come to beat us with the plastic pipe with wood and iron inside it during the evening hours. During this time, I thought about that plastic pipe. It seemed that they wanted a way to hurt us very bad without killing us with one blow. By putting the wood or iron inside the plastic pipe they were more likely to keep us in serious pain, but still alive. However, we knew that repeated beatings with this special stick could kill us. During these 2 weeks, it was the same 6 men that would beat us. I heard the names Abu Abdallah, Yousef, John Sinai, Ahmed, Khaled, and Taleb. Abu Abdallah was the leader.
29. Abu Abdallah seems to be around 60 years old. He is skinny, has a noticeable gap between his two front teeth, and his back is a bit hunched.
30. During the day, we had one telephone that we were supposed to use in order to call and beg our friends and family for the money that would set us free. They would beat us while we were on the phone so that our families would hear us scream. After 2 weeks of this situation, Abu Abdallah came and told us about a discount. If we paid quickly, we could pay 25,000 dollars. But if we did not pay quickly, he would re-raise the price to 30,000 dollars.
31. They continued to beat us and with such a difficult situation, people began to pay the 25,000 dollars. Three of the women as well as four men were able to pay. After they paid, they were taken from the underground room. One of the men later called us in Sinai from the Israeli prison. He told us that one of the women had been shot at the border. She was then caught along with another women by the Egyptian military. The other woman and the four men had made it into Israel and they were being held in the Israeli prison.
32. There was a two-week period of the beatings that no one else was able to pay.
It was during these two weeks that they started to electrocute us in addition to the beatings. They would also burn plastic onto our bodies. Following this, five more people were able to pay and they were taken from the room.
33. And then another five came up with the money. I was one of these five that was able to pay. However, Abu Abdallah told us that he would not take us from the room until ten people had come up with the money. We were only five that had organized the money and the other eleven people did not have the money. Then one of the eleven people, a man in his early 20s by the name of Ukbankiel, died from the beatings and hunger.
34. The beatings of the 10 people that had not paid (or been killed) intensified to twice a day. After 2 months of these conditions, three more people were able to come up with the money, 2 men and the 1 remaining woman.
35. Abu Abdallah told us that he would take the 8 of us out of the house to Israel. The five of us that had paid initially were put in one car and the three that had just paid were put in a second car. I later found out that those in the second car were sold to another group of smugglers. To date, two have paid it into Israel (including the woman) and one is still in Sinai.
36. John Sinai drove the second car and we were guarded by another man with a weapon. After driving for five minutes, we were told to exit the car and we were forced into another underground room. There were already 2 Eritreans in the room that I had never seen before. They told us that they had been in this room for the past 7 months and were expected to pay 33,000 dollars. The two Eritreans were named Weldu and Eyob, they had already paid some money but not the full amount. The group of 5 included Awet (myself), Robiel, Goytom, Daniel, and Ahferom.
37. When we arrived, John Sinai entered the room and told us to forget that we had already paid 25,000 dollars and that we must pay an additional 15,000 dollars. After one month, another 11 men (9 Eritreans and 2 Ethiopians) joined us. These 11 were told to may 33,000 dollars, the ransom for the 5 of us was lowered to 10,000 dollars, and the two that had been there when we arrived still had to complete their initial payment.
38. John Sinai seems to be in his 30s. He is a bit fat and medium height. He is also about 1 meter 70 cm.
39. Later that night, another Eritrean entered the room, by the name of Welday Solomon. The smugglers called him Abdu and he was the translator for the smugglers. While he slept in the room with us, he would often sit with the smugglers and eat with them. He would beat us when the smugglers were there and even after the smugglers would leave, he would continue to beat us with the special stick.
40. Welday Solomon seems to be 27 years old, he is thick although not fat and not skinny. His hair is receding a bit and he is about 1 meter 70 cm. He usually has a full beard.
41. Welday Solomon was in charge of giving us the phone to call our families. He would tell our families that if we did not pay, he would kill us. The families began to stop answering the phone. He would also eat all the food given to the group and drink all of the water that was meant to be for everyone. He would bring the group his urine for them to drink. I have many scars on my hands and my head from this man.
42. While Welday Solomon was beating us, the Bedouin smugglers would continue to torture us as well. I was severely beaten, burned with plastic, and electrocuted. I was also cut up with a knife and have scars on my face and back from the wounds. During the last several weeks, John Sinai would taunt our group of five by saying that it did not matter if he killed us because he already made so much money from us.
43. There was one week where we were not given any food or water. We were only allowed to drink Welday Solomon’s urine. During this week, Welday Solomon and John Sinai saw that three people, Robiel, Goytom, and Tsegay, were a bit stronger than the rest. These were three people from my group of five. In order to weaken them, they would hang them from the ceiling of the room and beat them. They would bring them down, give them some water, and hang them back up from the ceiling.
44. After three days of this treatment, Robiel died from his wounds. He was 21 years old. Two hours after he died, John Sinai and Welday Solomon removed his body from the room. We do not know what they did with the body.
45. One day later, after more beatings, Goytom died. Goytom was about 24 years old. They wrapped Goytom’s body in a blanket and took him from the room.
46. After three more days of beatings, Tsegay, one of the Eritreans from the group of 11, died. As people kept dying, Welday Solomon would threaten that we would be next.
47. Two days later, Ahferom from my group died from the beatings.
48. After Ahferom died, Welday Solomon disappeared. He did not return. We were now able to eat the food that they brought us and we could drink some water.
49. When John Sinai would come to beat us, he would tell us that he had killed Welday Solomon. It was at this point that John Sinai hung me from the ceiling and increased the beatings against me.
50. After 3 months of being in this second underground room, experiencing this torture and watching my people die, I was able to put together 10,000 dollars and I paid this ransom.
51. I was taken with one other person from the group who had also paid to the Israeli border. We crossed into Israel.
52. The total ransom I paid in Sinai was 35,000 dollars and I spent 7 months in Sinai.
53. I left behind 9 people in that room. I still speak with them on the phone to give them encouragement. They told me that an additional 7 people have joined them. I also heard that Welday Solomon was not killed by John Sinai; but that he had escaped to Cairo, Egypt.
April 2012: Abuse of hostages (2)
55. I lived in Sudan for two years. A human trafficker promised to take me to Sinai for 3,000 dollars. We were 210 people who paid 3,000 dollars.
56. All of us were sold. We were divided into different houses. They told us that we were going to Israel and took us in groups of 10. 50 people were held in each house. We were divided in two rooms. We were taken by car and reached a house. As soon as we left the car, guards with guns started beating us. We were chained by our hands and legs. When we went to the place everybody thought that we were going to Israel, but instead we were put in houses.
57. At the beginning, we were forced to pay 40,000 dollars. We were burned. I was electrocuted. My back is burned. They tortured us because we said that we could not pay the 40,000 dollars. They told us that if we would not pay they would kill us. My hands are swollen. It took time until all of us paid. They were beating us every minute, it took time for our families to pay the money, the beatings continued.
58. I found it very difficult because I have no one in Israel. They were demanding a phone card to call my family. All the Bedouin guards were beating me, torturing me with electricity because I did not have money to pay for the telephone cards to call my family.
59. I never went out. I did not see the sun for 10 months. Sometimes they would blindfold us. I was beaten on my head and my face. They tried to give us drugs to smoke, but we refused. I was whipped, I have lashes all over my back. I was burned with plastic on my back. I have burn wounds all over my arm. My fingers are swollen, my nails are black because of the repeated beatings.
60. Five people died of the 29 people that stayed with us. 10 of us were girls. The five people that died were all boys. The other 24 left after 3 months or 6 months, I was the last one to leave. In the other part I think that there are people who are still left behind. There were new people brought every time. Some paid 40,000 dollars. Others paid 28,000 or 26,000, we paid different amounts of money. The five people died because of the beatings and the torture with electric. They were all young, except two that I think were my age. From the people who died some paid 12,000, 15,000 or 18,000.
61. The name of the trafficker is Abu Musa and his brother is called John Sinai.The children of the traffickers were beating us. Children from 10 to 17 years old were coming and they were beating us. Children were burning my legs. I was beaten in order to be a lesson for others.
62. Three people were hanged. They were hanged for ten days for the new people to see what they would do to him if they would not pay. Two people that were hanged with me died. My hands were almost to be separated. We were tortured while we were hanged from the ceiling.
63. After six days the others died. For ten days in a row I hanged there, no sleep, no food. When we were beaten they took drugs and went to sleep. The people that were with me raised me while they were sleeping so that I could sleep. We were tied up with iron. The chain was tied out of the roof so that they chain could not be opened or I could be released. The tip of my feet were near to the ground.
64. In order to give a lesson to new ones we were hanged like that. The two that were hanged with me were to young to bear all the hardship. I was in the army so I was able to survive the torture. I was beaten on the sole of my feet. I have trouble walking. Even now I cannot stand because of the hanging. I was not able to cross the border on my own. The people carried me across the border.
Photograph of informant’s body and scars:
March 2012: Abuse of hostages (3)
65. “I was kidnapped when I was in Sudan in Hamdeid while I was crossing from Ethiopia. The people who helped me to cross the river handed me and 9 other people over to the Rashaida. We were kept in the forest for a week. From there we were sent straight to the Sinai.
66. When we reached in Sinai they asked us to pay US$ 3,000. After three weeks we paid. We were 27 people. When we paid we were changed to another room, there we were chained and blindfolded and asked another US$ 33,000. I do not know how many people were with me then. They told us that we were sold.
67. I was beaten on my ears. Pulse was coming from my ears. We were beaten with a piece of wood from a table. We were also tortured with electricity. They put the wire in my mouth, we had to hold it with our teeth. We were blindfolded all the time, I could only hear them.
68. We were hungry most of the time. Because of the beatings I have swollen legs. There were only two that were allowed to go and cross the border. It was difficult for me to cross the border. They told us that they were calling the doctor to take our kidneys.
69. There were women with children, I only heard their voices, I never saw them. I heard that people died, but I never saw them. In the beginning when they blindfolded us they told us that they would take of the blindfold, but they never did. For 60 days I was blindfolded.
70. They were beating us while we were talking with our relatives. The traffickers had different names. Sometimes he called himself Mohammed, at other times Khalid. He told us to tell the people that you are in the house of Mohammed, but his name is Khalid.
71. We were given little water, the little water that was given to us was with diesel. I do not know who paid for me, I know my parents cannot pay. We were taken by car for ten minutes to the border, in fifteen minutes walking we reached the border. I heard a plane moving. It looked like a forest, but not a city.”
March 2011: Abuse of hostages (4)
72. “We were five people together from Eritrea. We were kidnapped as soon as we entered Sudan. We were taken to the desert. We were kept in Sudan and asked to pay more than US$ 2000 in order to be released to Khartoum. After we told the Rashaida that we don’t have such amount of money we where taken to Sinai and immediately they asked us to pay US$ 33,000.
73. I was hanged upside down from the ceiling and was beaten. I was chained and we were tortured with electric. I was beaten on my productive organ. I was blindfolded for six months until I paid US$ 25,000. We were chained five by five persons. If you opened the blindfold they beat you. I only heard voices and the cries of the other people but I do not know who were with me. From the moment we entered we were blindfolded. The smugglers told us that people have died because they did not pay. I did not see them, but we were told. They were also torturing us with fire. The traffickers told me: Either you pay money or your body will be taken away. You will not go out alive if you do not pay. We were with Abu Ahmed and with the brother of Abu Musa, his name is John Sinai. We were beaten on our ears; it is very difficult to concentrate and to remember what happened. I was beaten on my genitals. I cannot sleep during the night. My hand and feet pain me.
74. I do not know how my family paid. They begged everyone to pay. When I asked my family in Eritrea to pay 22000 they were in shock, they never thought they could pay that amount of money, they begged people to collect the ransom. I was carried across the border, I could not walk. Someone carried me across the border. I am staying with people. There was a shooting at the border, but everyone crossed.”
2011: Involvement of Eritrean officials, including General “Manjus”
75. I have been in Israel for one year. I left Eritrea in 2003. In between, I was in Libya and Sudan. On my way to Israel in 2011, I spent 20 days in the Sinai. I worked as a translator for the smuggler Abu Ahmed.
76. Abu Ahmed is the boss of his family of smugglers. He brings people from Libya and Sudan to Israel and charges them $15,000 each, no more, no less.
77. He also smuggles weapons. The way he brings them is through Sudan but their journey starts in a place called Allai, in the highlands of Eritrea. From Allai they are taken to Tesseney, which is the exit town of Eritrea.
78. From Tesseney they go to Wadi Sharifay in Sudan, which used to be a refugee camp. From Wadi Sharifay to Sitau Ashrin; which is also a refugee camp.
79. There are two high ranking Eritrean soldiers involved in this, I know them well. Their names are Borhame and Yesef Hadegu. The main man who is in charge of all of this is Manjus. The other two are the ones working. They bring the weapons in their cars to Wadi Sharifay. Then Manjus calls the Rashaida and they come and there is a handover — the smugglers take the weapons. These are the same gangs that smuggle people. I know the name of one of them is Abed. They are very tight with the military.
80. Manjus gets all the money. They don’t get anything. They are in the military so they just do what they are told.
81. They money doesn’t stop with Manjus, it goes all the way up — to the president. The weapons are taken to Sinai. I saw with my own naked eyes, Abu Ahmed buy $250 each for these weapons. They are mostly Russian, originally. He then sells them to Palestinians for more. All the weapons are old, mostly Kalashnikovs and RPGs.
82. The weapons are taken in a big truck from Eritrea to Sudan. But when they are transported from Sudan to Sinai, they are covered with people so they are not exposed to the satellites.
83. The routes into Egypt come from all different directions but they all cross at exactly the same point on the Suez Canal. They carry the weapons in ships covered with cartons and bags so as not to be detected and people sit on them.
84. Abu Ahmed would receive deliveries of weapons three times a week. In every two deliveries, there would be say 300 weapons; and countless bullets.
85. I also met Abu Abdullah. He used to buy bullets from Abu Ahmed, so I suppose it’s likely that he wasn’t smuggling weapons himself. I think there were a few others who are.
86. Abu Ahmed’s base is obvious. Really, I think those people [in the area] must not have any brains if they don’t know it is there. He has four big houses.
87. There is also a deep underground grave. One day, Abu Ahmed’s son Mohamed took us to that grave and said, “Many of your brothers are here. We will put you here too”. If you took me in a helicopter, I could show you were this is easily. It’s about 200 metres away from the houses and has a big wide opening.
2008: Alleged involvement of Eritrean General “Manjus”
88. I left Sudan in December 2007. Rashaida Arabs brought us through Sudan and then another tribe of Bedouin took us into the Sinai.
89. They drove white Toyota pickup trucks covered in mud to camouflage them, like soldiers. There were 22 of us per truck. They didn’t speak in any Eritrean dialects just Arabic. But they have a big connection to Eritrea — the Rashaida in both countries speak the same language. I forgot the name of ours, but there is always a connection man who translates for the smugglers from Arabic into Tigrinya.
90. The connection man in our group told me they had brought weapons from Eritrea. He didn’t tell me any of the details about where they were from exactly and how the Rashaida had got hold of them.
91. I don’t know how many weapons there were in the car with me but it was full.
They covered the weaponry with tent material and made us sit on them. There were RPGs, Kalashnikovs, machineguns.
92. We could only see what was on the top level of the weapons, it was difficult to see how many there were but there were a lot. There was Tigrinya script on the weapons that I saw. The initials of the soldier whose gun it was or of the battalion.
93. There were 17 cars in our convoy. Nine of the cars were travelling ahead of us carrying about 100 people. They reached the border with Egypt, they were stopped by Egyptian soldiers. The Rashaida took out the weapons, gave them to the Eritreans and made them fight the soldiers. Three Eritreans were killed and two Egyptian soldiers. The rest of the Eritreans were captured.
94. The smugglers keep in constant contact with each other and the first group called back to say what had happened. We were lucky. We didn’t see any soldiers when we crossed. I’m not sure where we were on the border but there was a huge mountain.
95. There was no highway to drive along in Sudan, we just drove on the sand through the desert all the way from Khartoum to Egypt. When we got into Egypt, we drove on a highway all the way to the Suez Canal.
96. We were smuggled onto a boat with the weapons and with the help of a very senior Egyptian general. I saw him but didn’t speak to him and never found out his name but he was very high ranking. The smuggler’s agent was the only man who would speak with me.
97. I understand a bit of Arabic though and I overheard the Bedouin saying that the weapons were going to the Palestinians. The last time I saw the weapons was after the channel crossing. We went onto Cairo and I don’t know where the weapons went next.
98. I don’t know how the process works exactly but I know that one of the senior military officials in Eritrea, Teklai Manjus, gathered all the Rashaida together and told them that wherever they are in the world, they will be Eritreans. The Rashaida have very good contacts with the military but they don’t care about nationality or patriotism. They only care about making money.