Sunday, December 30, 2012

History, Eritrea, Africa, Ethiopia, Italy, Italia | capitaleritrea news


One of, if not the last, Eritrean askari, aboy Welday Tecle Weldekidan Melkai Tensai of the village of Damba Minche in the Serai region has passed away at the age of 93.
Aboy Welday was drafted into the Italian African Colonial Army, or “askaris” as they were known, in the first round of national conscription instituted by the Italian colonialist regime in Eritrea in 1937.
Italy began its invasion and occupation of Eritrea in the 1880’s but due to a half a century of armed resistance to Italian colonialism by the Eritrean people, had not dared to conscript, train and arm Eritreans in fear that they would revolt, turn their guns on their oppressors and go over to the anti colonialist resistance.
It wasn’t until the last remnants of the armed resistance had been suppressed in the early 1930’s and several years had passed did the Italians dare to enforce the creation of the the Eritrean askari military, of which aboy Welday was conscripted in the first round.
The Italians had carried out a census of sorts and set up a system whereby every village in Eritrea was required, depending on its population, to provide a number of its young boys for conscription by the Italian colonial military and at the age of 18 aboy Welday was choosen by the village elders to meet their quota.
Shortly after completing his military training aboy Welday was selected to be in the Elite 100 Tigrinia company, a program whereby every major ethnic group in the Italian Colonial African Army provided
100 of its tallest, handsomest conscripts to participate in the Italian Expo held in Italy in 1938.
So aboy Welday, along with thousands of other east Africans from Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia, boarded ships and set sail for Italy, where the arrival of such handsome young Africans in their smart uniforms caused quite a sensation, especially amongst the young Italian women.
All this excitement was broken by the advent of WW2 and aboy Welday’s unit was seconded to an artillery brigade and sent to the Italian colony of Libya to fight against the British and American armies on behalf of their Italian rulers.
With the defeat and surrender of the Italian army in Africa to the British, aboy Welday and his fellow askaris were imprisoned in a p.o.w. camp under harsh conditions for several months until they were finally repatriated to Eritrea where they each received 25 shillings compensation and were discharged.
Aboy Welday returned to his village of Damba Minche and took up his old life of farming but due to an infestation of locusts that ate his first crop moved to the capital city of Asmara.
Aboy Welday had taught himself to read and write while in the askaris and quickly found a position in the telecommunications sector in Eritrea under the British colonialists,later the Ethiopians, beginning an almost 40 year career as a lineman maintaining the telephone system in Eritrea.
Being from Damba Minche, one of the homes of Eritrean nationalism where Asmach Berhe, one of the founders of the Eritrea for Eritreans movement was to be assassinated (Berhe was aboy Weldays relative) aboy Welday was a staunch Eritrean patriot and eventually was imprisoned for a period for refusing duty in the Ethiopian created militia imposed on the town of Keren where Aboy spent most of his career in telecommunications.
Of aboy Welday’s nine children five joined the armed struggle for national liberation under the leadership of the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front, of whom one was martyred.
Aboy Welday, one of, if not the last Eritrean Askari, is survived by his younger brother Kuflom, 7 children, 24 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren and will be laid to rest in his family burial plot next to his late wife of 74 years, Sebene Tecle in Damba Minche.
Thomas C. Mountain, son in law of aboy Welday, is the most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain_at_yahoo_dot_com

History, Eritrea, Africa, Ethiopia, Italy, Italia | capitaleritrea news

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

New UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea urges Government to cooperateDisplayNews

New UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea urges Government to cooperate


GENEVA (21 December 2012) – The newly-appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Beedwantee Keetharuth, on Friday urged the Eritrean authorities to cooperate with her mandate, as required by the UN Human Rights Council.
“I hope that the Eritrean Government would consider the mandate of the Special Rapporteur as an opportunity to start a fresh and constructive dialogue on human rights issues that have been raised by the international community and other stakeholders,” Ms. Keetharuth said. She also noted that the primary concern of the Special Rapporteur is to provide an objective, fair and impartial picture of human rights in Eritrea.
The human rights expert also said she trusted the Eritrean Government would view her mandate as an opportunity “to carefully address Eritrea’s compliance with its human rights obligations as contained in international treaties to which the country is a party.”
As Ms. Keetharuth is due to present her first report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013, she requested meetings with Eritrean diplomats in Geneva and in London at the start of her mandate.
“The aim was to introduce myself and present my vision of the mandate in a spirit of openness, as well as to explore avenues for cooperation. Unfortunately these meetings have not yet taken place,” Ms. Keetharuth said. “I have now requested to travel to Eritrea in early 2013.”
In the meantime, the Special Rapporteur will engage with all others concerned by human rights in Eritrea, including those who consider themselves to be victims of alleged human rights violations, human rights defenders and other civil society actors.
ENDS
Beedwantee Keetharuth was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea during the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012. She took up her functions on 1 November 2012. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. A lawyer from Mauritius, she has extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations, advocacy, training and litigation in human rights in Africa.
UN Human Rights, country page – Eritrea: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/ERIndex.aspx
For more information and media requests, please contact Birthe Ankenbrand (+41 22 928 9465 / bankenbrand@ohchr.org) or write to sr-eritrea@ohchr.org
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Cécile Pouilly, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 93 10 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)
UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:
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My voice, my right, my voice counts – Watch the Human Rights Day’s video: http://youtu.be/hFGEYP-Pnt4

Saturday, December 22, 2012

United Nations News Centre - Eritrea must cooperate in human rights dialogue, urges UN independent expert




21 December 2012 – The Government of Eritrea must cooperate with an international mandate to provide “an objective, fair and impartial picture” of the human rights situation in the Horn of Africa country, a United Nations independent expert urged today.
“I hope that the Eritrean Government would consider the mandate of the Special Rapporteur as an opportunity to start a fresh and constructive dialogue on human rights issues that have been raised by the international community and other stakeholders,” Beedwantee Keetharuth, the newly-appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, stated in a news release.
According to multiple reports, the human rights situation in Eritrea is generally viewed as being poor, with allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as widespread constraints on freedom of speech. In one example dating to early September of this year, the UN condemned the deaths of three Eritrean media workers who had been kept in a prison camp for over a decade.
In July this year, the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in which it strongly condemned the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean authorities, the severe restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression, and the forced conscription of citizens for indefinite periods. At the same time, it decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the matter.
In keeping with her mandate, Ms. Keetharuth, a lawyer from Mauritius with extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations across Africa, is expected to present her report on Eritrea’s human rights situation to the Council in June 2013.
Ahead of that, she had requested meetings with the country’s diplomats in Geneva and London at the start of her mandate this past November. She noted, however, that the meetings had yet to take place.
“The aim was to introduce myself and present my vision of the mandate in a spirit of openness, as well as to explore avenues for cooperation,” she continued. “I have now requested to travel to Eritrea in early 2013.”
In the news release, Ms. Keetharuth expressed faith that the Eritrean Government would ultimately view her mandate as an opportunity to carefully address the country’s “compliance with its human rights obligations as contained in international treaties to which the country is a party.”
In the meantime, the UN expert added that she would engage with other parties affected by human rights issues in the Eritrea, including those who consider themselves to be the victims of alleged human rights violations, human rights defenders and other civil society actors.
Independent experts, or special rapporteurs such as Ms. Keetharuth, are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

New UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea urges Government to cooperate


GENEVA (21 December 2012) – The newly-appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Beedwantee Keetharuth, on Friday urged the Eritrean authorities to cooperate with her mandate, as required by the UN Human Rights Council.
“I hope that the Eritrean Government would consider the mandate of the Special Rapporteur as an opportunity to start a fresh and constructive dialogue on human rights issues that have been raised by the international community and other stakeholders,” Ms. Keetharuth said. She also noted that the primary concern of the Special Rapporteur is to provide an objective, fair and impartial picture of human rights in Eritrea.
The human rights expert also said she trusted the Eritrean Government would view her mandate as an opportunity “to carefully address Eritrea’s compliance with its human rights obligations as contained in international treaties to which the country is a party.”
As Ms. Keetharuth is due to present her first report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013, she requested meetings with Eritrean diplomats in Geneva and in London at the start of her mandate.
“The aim was to introduce myself and present my vision of the mandate in a spirit of openness, as well as to explore avenues for cooperation. Unfortunately these meetings have not yet taken place,” Ms. Keetharuth said. “I have now requested to travel to Eritrea in early 2013.”
In the meantime, the Special Rapporteur will engage with all others concerned by human rights in Eritrea, including those who consider themselves to be victims of alleged human rights violations, human rights defenders and other civil society actors.
ENDS
Beedwantee Keetharuth was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea during the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012. She took up her functions on 1 November 2012. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. A lawyer from Mauritius, she has extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations, advocacy, training and litigation in human rights in Africa.
UN Human Rights, country page – Eritrea: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/ERIndex.aspx
For more information and media requests, please contact Birthe Ankenbrand (+41 22 928 9465 / bankenbrand@ohchr.org) or write to sr-eritrea@ohchr.org
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Cécile Pouilly, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 93 10 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)
UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/UNrightswire
Google+ gplus.to/unitednationshumanrights 
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/UNOHCHR 
Storify: http://storify.com/UNrightswire
My voice, my right, my voice counts – Watch the Human Rights Day’s video: http://youtu.be/hFGEYP-Pnt4

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Iran and Israel Vie for Influence in Eritrea - theTrumpet.com


The small, economically and politically vulnerable country of Eritrea has been accommodating rivals Israel and Iran in exchange for geopolitical support. This has effectively made the East African country yet another prize to be won in the ongoing rivalry between Israel and Iran.
“In exchange for resources, possibly including modest amounts of cash and weapons, Eritrea has exhibited a willingness to become a base of support for Middle Eastern powers that want to exert greater influence in the Horn of Africa,” wrote U.S. think tank Stratfor on December 11.
Eritrea is a country with a meager population of a little more than 5 million. In 1991, it attained independence from neighboring Ethiopia, a country nine times its size. This independence effectively cut Ethiopia completely off from the Red Sea. Tensions have been high since, and they heightened to full war from 1998 to 2000. Tiny Eritrea lost that bloody war but still managed to maintain its independence. Eritrea has also fought wars with Yemen and Djibouti.
Eritrea has lived in isolation among its African neighbors and withheld its participation in the African Union from 2004 to 2011.
Eritrea now wants to change that, and cooperation with U.S.-allied Israel will help. Eritrea also seeks security support to help prevent an attack from Ethiopia. Israel benefits from this relationship by maintaining intelligence-gathering operations in Eritrea to monitor the Red Sea and Iran.
From Iran, Eritrea also receives military support as well as industrial assistance and cash. Stratfor noted that in 2009, when Eritrea openly supported Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran wired $35 million to Eritrea. Iran’s prize for its benevolence is greater influence in the Red Sea, particularly the Bab el Mandeb strait that connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea.
In its final analysis, Stratfor noted Israel is not too keen to jeopardize the good relationship it has with both Eritrea and its nemesis Ethiopia. Israel is thus “less interested in expanding its presence in Eritrea than Iran. … As Israel has expanded its security cooperation with South Sudan and Kenya in recent years, Eritrea has responded by strengthening its ties with Iran.”
Bible prophecy indicates that both Eritrea and Ethiopia will come under the influence of Iran. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explains in his article “Libya and Ethiopia Reveal Iran’s Military Strategy” that where “Ethiopia” is mentioned in Daniel 11:40-44, it includes today’s Ethiopia as well as the small areas of Eritrea and Djibouti on the Red Sea coastline.
For more understanding, read our special report Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy. In it we write, “Iran controls the Strait of Hormuz, and via its Islamic allies in Egypt is fast gaining decisive influence over the Suez Canal. When it eventually gains influence over Ethiopia and Eritrea, Iran will control the Red Sea. When that happens, Iran will have the power to lock down virtually the entire Middle East!” 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

New media cracks Eritrea’s iron curtain


An Eritrean demonstrator waves his national flag. Photograph: Getty Images.
An Eritrean demonstrator waves his national flag whist taking part in a demonstration on Whitehall. Photograph: Getty Images.
Young Eritreans, who have fled abroad to escape their government’s stifling repression and years of compulsory military service, have turned to new media to attack the regime. Over the last year they have used chat-rooms, phone messaging and flash-mobs to get their message across.
In the last decade, tens of thousands of Eritreans slipped across their country’s heavily guarded borders. After surviving shipwreck in the Mediterranean or banditry, torture and extortion in the Sinai, they are building new lives in Europe, the US and Israel. Many are deeply angry that they have had to flee from their homeland, and looking for a means of attacking President Isaias Afwerki grip on power. But Eritrea is – after North Korea – probably the most inaccessible of regimes.  It accepts almost no foreign aid, has expelled most United Nations agencies and forbids foreign ambassadors from travelling outside the capital, Asmara.
Since the early 1990s, all independent media have been silenced, critics jailed and the university closed. Isolated in exile, young Eritreans have developed new forms of resistance through a campaign group, Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change.
They began with phone numbers smuggled out of the country. Eritrean towns and villages were targeted for phone calls at random. "We wanted to show Eritreans that they were not isolated," explained Selam Kidane, one of the London organisers. "At first people were very frightened, but gradually that has faded," Selam told me. "Now, when I get through I get passed from person to person."
Next the group turned to robocalls to spread their message.  Automated messages recorded by a priest for use on 29 November, the feast of Saint Mary.  Five thousand calls were made, urging people to go to St Mary’s church in Asmara, to commemorate the disappearance in 2005 of the Patriach of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Patriach Abune Antonios. The organisers claim that around 5,000 of the 6,800 calls got through. Some were followed up by one to one conversations.
Since then there have been a series of concerted campaigns, focussing on smaller towns. The organising group, called Arbi Harnet or ‘Freedom Friday’, asks Eritreans to remain off the streets, as a mark of solidarity. "The main objective is to penetrate the government’s iron curtain, to reach our people and encourage them to take communal action and link the resistance," says Ahmed Abdelrahim from Melbourne, a singer and song writer who co-founded Arbi Harnet.
Other calls have been used to mark particular events. This month, the ninth anniversary of the detention of Astern Yohannes, a guerrilla fighter was marked with 10,000 calls. She is also the wife of one of Eritrea’s best known imprisoned politician and first minister of defence, Petros Solomon. A videohas been produced, explaining how she returned home in December 2003, after studying for three years at University of Phoenix in Arizona, to be with her children. Posters have been sent over the internet, describing the plight of young Eritreans who become held to ransom in the Sinai by people smugglers. Some have been secretly put up in Asmara and covertly filmed on mobile phones.
But perhaps the most powerful weapon has been through chat-rooms like Paltalk. This has enabled young exiles, the majority of whom have few foreign languages and no experience of the outside world, to escape their isolation. Together they have become what they call "the team that never sleeps." Living across the globe, with members in Australia, Europe and California, they plan and co-ordinate their operations. Flash mobs from Switzerland to Scotland have broken up meetings organised by government supporters, and the Eritrean ambassadors now have few opportunities to openly push the official line.
Unlike the first generation of exiled Eritreans, who concentrated on formal organisational structures, the youth are keen to act rather than plot and plan. With no formal structure and no borders, these young men and women are challenging a regime that has been described by Human Rights Watch as one of the most repressive in the world.
Martin Plaut is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Friday, December 14, 2012

Eritrea, Ethiopia Rank Africa's Worst Jailer of the Press -CPJ -


Paris — Eritrea and Ethiopia have respectively become Africa's leading jailers of journalists, according to the jailed Journalists List of 2012 released by the US-based, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The number of journalists imprisoned worldwide has reached a record high this year, with 232 reporters, photojournalists and editors imprisoned in 27 countries.
The figure above has seen a rise of 53 to that of last year and is the highest since CPJ began the survey in 1990.
The group said it has found widespread use of anti-state charges primarily related with terrorism, treason and subversion as most common allegations brought against critical journalists and editors.
"We are living in an age when anti-state charges and 'terrorist' labels have become the preferred means that governments use to intimidate, detain, and imprison journalists," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.
According to the new survey, Turkey leads the world's worst jailers list with 49 journalists behind bars followed by Iran and China who imprisoned 45 and 32 journalists respectively.
Eritrea and Syria are ranked the world's fourth and fifth worst jailers who respectively jailed 28 and 15 journalists without charge or due process and holding them in secret prisons without access to lawyers or family members.
Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and Saudi Arabia were also included in the top ten foremost jailers of journalists.
"Criminalizing probing coverage of inconvenient topics violates not only international law, but impedes the right of people around the world to gather, disseminate, and receive independent information" added Simon.
"With a record number of journalists imprisoned around the world, the time has come to speak out," said Simon.
"We must fight back against governments seeking to cloak their repressive tactics under the banner of fighting terrorism; we must push for broad legislative changes in countries where critical journalism is being criminalized; we must stand up for all those journalists in prison and do all in our power to secure their release; and we must ensure the Internet itself remains an open global platform for critical expression" he added.
The press freedom group said it has sent letters to the governments of the countries listed in CPJ's 2012 census expressing serious concern over the situation.

Eritrean Strongman Asks Qatar To Mediate Dispute With Ethiopia | Awate.com

Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki has asked Qatar to mediate his long-standing feud with “arch-rival” Ethiopia.   This message was communicated to the new Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalgn, by Qatar, while the Ethiopian prime minister was conducting a state visit.
Isaias Afwerki has offered to attend mediation talks without any pre-conditions.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Hailemariam Desalegn told his interviewer that he would be willing to travel to Eritrea to hold face-to-face talks with Isaias Afwerki and that this was a long-standing Ethiopian policy:   “My predecessor Meles Zenawi had asked for more than 50 times even to go to Asmara and negotiate with Mister Isaias Afwerki,” he said.
Qatar, which is showing greater interest in the region, is weary of the growing Turkish influence in the Horn of Africa. Recently, the Turkish foreign minister visited Asmara at the invitation of Isaias Afwerki, who wanted him to mediate between the new Somali regime and the Eritrean regime. But while in Asmara, Isaias also informed the Turkish foreign minister that he is working to normalize relations with Ethiopia and that he had asked Qatar to mediate.
Isaias Afwerki is facing internal crisis represented by acute shortage of electricity, water and basic food items including milk throughout Eritrea.  This has exacerbated the crisis within the military where morale has hit rock bottom due to the confusing command and control hierarchy–where Isaias bypasses his direct reports to communicate directly with more junior officers–mass desertion which has hollowed out the forces, inadequate salaries and rampant corruption within the officer class.
To head off revolt within the armed forces, Isaias Afwerki has started to arm the entire civilian population and to structure them in what is known as Hzbawi Serawit, or People’s Army, modeled after Communist China, where Isaias Afwerki received his first revolutionary indoctrination in the 1960s.
In the streets of Eritrea, old men and women carrying AK-47s is a common sight.  It is not unusual to witness women carrying AK-47s while holding their babies and farmers as old as sixty plough their land while carrying their guns.
Isaias Afwerki is on record, repeatedly, for stating that he would never enter into negotiations with Ethiopia other than to discuss the mechanism for strict implementation of the ruling of Eritrea-Ethiopian Boundary Commission (EEBC.) While a separate body, the Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission (EECC) largely put the blame on Eritrea for starting the war,  the symbolic flashpoint of the border war, Badme, was awarded to Eritrea by the EEBC.  The Boundary Commission ended up conducting  “virtual demarcation” after being frustrated by Ethiopia’s refusal to strictly abide by the ruling and demanding dialogue on implementing the ruling purportedly to avoid disrupting the lives of Ethiopian citizens.
Isaias Afwerki also has a history of acting in way diametrically opposed to his loud and frequent assertions, but only after he has been penalized for his intransigence.  For one thing, after repeatedly telling the United Nations that he had no dispute with Djibouti and therefore nothing to resolve, he agreed to mediation (Djibouti Eritrea Mediation Agreement) without acknowledging to his people that he had done so.  However, in the interim, the UN had imposed sanctions(S/Res/1907(2009)) on Eritrea in no small part due to Isaias’s refusal to admit that he went to war with Djibouti, that he is holding Djibouti prisoners of war, and that he should admit this and seek resolution.
The mediator for the Eritrea-Djbouti dispute is also Qatar, which has stationed its armed forces in a buffer zone between Eritrea and Djibouti.
awate.com
inform.  inspire. embolden. reconcile.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Israel & Iran Operating contending Bases in Eritrea - Defense/Security - News - Israel National News

Report: Israel Operating Bases in Eritrea

Stratfor Global Intelligence report says Israel is monitoring Iran's activities in the region by operating bases in Eritera.
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By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/12/2012, 3:13 AM

IDF forces (file)
IDF forces (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90
Israel has been monitoring activities in Iran by operating bases in Eritrea, a report by Stratfor Global Intelligence said Tuesday.
The report said that Eritrea, located on the eastern shore of the Red Sea, has become an arena of operations for both Israel and Iran, as both are trying to bolster their influence on the Horn of Africa.
“In exchange for resources, possibly including modest amounts of cash and weapons, Eritrea has exhibited a willingness to become a base of support for Middle Eastern powers that want to exert greater influence in the Horn of Africa,” said the report.
“As a result, Eritrea and its waters in the Gulf of Aden have become another venue for Iran and Israel's rivalry. Israel and Iran's engagement with Eritrea is an extension of their rivalry over the Red Sea, which allegedly led to the bombing of the Yarmouk weapons factory in Sudan,” added the report, referring to the mysterious bombing at a military factory in Khartoum on October 23.
Sudan fingered Israel for the bombing, which led to speculation that Iranian weapons were stored or manufactured at the factory. Khartoum has denied Iranian involvement in weapons manufacturing and has accused Israel of "spreading fabricated information".
“In 2008,” said the Stratfor report, “Tehran struck a deal with Asmara to maintain a military presence in Assab -- officially to protect the state-owned renovated Soviet-era oil refinery there. In return, Asmara received cash and other military support from Tehran through official and unofficial channels. In 2009, the same year in which Eritrea openly supported Iran's nuclear program, the Export Development Bank of Iran transferred $35 million to support the Eritrean economy.”
“Israel also operates inside Eritrea,” the report continued. “According to Stratfor diplomatic and media sources, Israel has small naval teams in the Dahlak archipelago and Massawa and a listening post in Amba Soira.”
“Israel's presence in Eritrea is very focused and precise, involving intelligence gathering in the Red Sea and monitoring Iran's activities,” said the report. “Various Stratfor diplomatic sources have said that Israel's presence in Eritrea is small but significant.”
According to Stratfor, “Asmara wants Israel's friendship for numerous security and political reasons. Eritrea wants to use Israel to influence the United States -- an ally of both Israel and Ethiopia -- in decisions regarding Eritrea on the international stage. The country also wants to acquire better air defense capabilities to defend against a possible attack from Ethiopia. Moreover, cooperating with Israel is a way for Asmara to balance its controversial relationship with Tehran.”
At the same time, Stratfor said, “Israel has good relations with both Eritrea and Ethiopia and is less interested in expanding its presence in Eritrea than Iran. Israel would not want to harm its relations with Ethiopia and other regional countries, as it has a wider interest in East Africa -- mainly containing Sudan's Islamist government, which allegedly supports Hamas and other anti-Israeli elements in the Middle East. As Israel has expanded its security cooperation with South Sudan and Kenya in recent years, Eritrea has responded by strengthening its ties with Iran.”


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eritrea denies reports that president Aferwerki is to step-down - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 10, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Eritrean government has dismissed recent reports alleging that the long-time leader of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki, has decided to stand-down in 2013.
JPEG - 31.8 kb
Eritrean president, Isias Afewerki (AFP/Getty)
Citing sources in Asmara,Ethiopian Review, an online journal, recentlyreported that Afewerki is planning to step downwithin a year, along with most of the senior leadership and will transfer power to younger leaders.

However, Eritrea’s presidential spokesperson, Yemane Gebremeskel, told the GermanDeutsche Welle Radio’s Amharic program, that the rumours are baseless.

“In a recent post I asserted that there is a pattern to these rumours. They are usually engendered when some within Ethiopia who want to hide or obscure some event inside Ethiopia,” he said adding they “are just distractions.”

Ethiopian Review claimed that “the Eritrean president wants to be a Mandela or George Washington-like figure to his country by overseeing a smooth transfer of power on his own terms.”

Anonymous Eritrean opposition political groups based in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune on Monday that it is “totally unlikely” that the “Eritrean dictator” will resign or allow a smooth power transfer.

The opposition officials further stressed that the only way to remove Aferwerki from power is by military means or with an uprising, as seen in other countries during the Arab spring.
An Eritrean political analyst, on a condition of anonymity, said that Aferwerki’s alleged decision to resign is "no surprise" because of his deteriorating health and mounting discontent amongst the country’s defence forces.

The Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO), chairman, Ibrahim Haron, told Sudan Tribune in November that Eritrea is witnessing a growing division among political and military leaders following worsening corruption in the poorly-funded military.
As result of the corruption, the Eritrean army has begun unprecedented protests and there has been public outcry, according to Haron.
With an estimated 200,000-300,000 troops, Eritrea has the largest armies in sub-Saharan Africa, despite its relatively small population.
Afewerki has ruled the country since 1993 when it gained its independence from Ethiopia after more than 30 years of struggle.

Afewerki was seen as a hero by many of the Eritrean people for his role in the fight for freedom, however when he assumed power he shut down independent news outlets, and stifled freedom of speech and religious practise. Eritrea was described by Human Rights Watch in 2012 as "one of the world’s most repressive governments."

Tens of thousands of Eritrea’s citizens have fled to neighbouring countries to seek refuge. UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, Andrej Mahecic said during a visit to East Sudan in January, "This is the area hosting one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world. At the moment there are some 70,000 refugees mostly of Eritrean origin and they reside in 12 camps in this part of the country."
According to UNHCR, approximately 1,700 refugees, mainly from Eritrea, arrive in Sudan every month.
Last week 17 players and the doctor of the Eritrean football squad sought asylum in Uganda after taking part at the East and Central Africa Football Associations senior Challenge Cup.
Similarly, 13 players from Eritrea’s top football club have disappeared in Tanzania after the team was knocked out of a regional tournament in July 2011.
Eritrea’s flag-bearer during the 2012 Olympics sought asylum in the UK in August.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Norway closed her embassy In Eritrea like most of the western countries closure / News / The Foreigner — Norwegian News in English.

The intended closure of Norway's embassy in Eritrea's capital of Asmara has left some Eritrean refugees in east African countries disappointed.


Norway’s government has said that it is soon to close its embassy in Eritrea and some other countries as part of foreign policy re-planning.
“As announced earlier in 2012, changes are also being made to Norway’s diplomatic presence in Africa. The embassy in Asmara (Eritrea) is to be closed. Another mission in the region will then be given responsibility for Eritrea,” Norway’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The embassies in Abuja (Nigeria) and Nairobi (Kenya) will be given extra resources in order to strengthen their efforts vis-à-vis Niger and Somalia respectively. In addition, staff levels at some missions in Africa will be reduced in order to free up resources,” officials added.
There are many Eritrean refugees in east African countries. They allege that Norway closing its embassy will leave a big gap.
One refugee in Kenya said, “I’m not happy about Norway closing her embassy in Eritrea because officials working there can get impressions about what the poor people of Eritrea need first-hand and aid can be sent there.”
“Foreign embassies are very vital in Eritrea because the wrong elements in government fear to mistreat people in presence of embassy officials,” claimed another in Uganda. “They try to show the embassies that they observe human rights.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Police hunting missing Eritrea players | News.com.au

Eritrean team
The Eritrean players who settled in Adelaide after defecting in 2009. Source: adelaidenow
UGANDAN police are searching for 17 Eritrea players who went missing from their team hotel in Kampala and didn't return home following the country's elimination from a regional tournament.
Police spokesman Ibn Senkumbi says the footballers were being sought for questioning as to why they weren't on a plane to Eritrea earlier Tuesday with the remainder of the squad after playing in the CECAFA Cup. Eritrea failed to win a game at the tournament for east and central African countries.

Senkumbi said the players, if found, would be subject to deportation from Uganda, adding police were looking for them ``for their own safety.''

The entire Eritrea team sought refugee status at the 2009 CECAFA Cup in Kenya and later ended up settling in Adelaide where they now play for State League teams.
Some Eritrean athletes also went missing at this year's London Olympics.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

US renews Eritrean travel warning - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan


  The US government has issued new Eritrean travel advice, cautioning its citizens to be aware of the risks.

In a renewed alert issued on 29 November, the US state department recommended US citizens avoid all types of travel to Eritrea due to security incidents, including attacks near the border with Ethiopia.

The travel advice cautioned all US nationals to avoid visiting the Ethiopia-Eritrean border due to security threats.

The document recalled an incident in January 2012 in which five foreign tourists were killed and others abducted by allegedly Eritrea-backed Ethiopian rebels in the Erta-Ale volcano in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia, a few kilometres from the Eritrean border.
“The US Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea and strongly recommends U.S. citizens defer all travel to the country,” states the release.
It also recommends against any travel in Eritrean waters due to the regime’s repeated “illegal detention of vessels.”
Eritrea generally requires ten days notice before awarding permission for foreign visitors to travel outside the capital, Asmara and “as a result, the U.S. Embassy is extremely limited in its ability to provide emergency consular assistance outside of Asmara”.

The US state department added crimes in Asmara are on rise due to worsening economic conditions.

It further alleged that the Eritrean government has arrested a number of Eritrean-US dual citizens and many of them are “currently being held without apparent cause”.

The latest Eritrean travel warning replaces the one issued on 18 April, when the US then urged visitors to avoid unnecessary travel to the nation.

It also warned citizens against travel to the Eritrea-Ethiopia border areas as well as the border with Djibouti.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a two-year bloody war over their disputed border during 1998-2000, costing the lives of over 70,000 people.

With their border dispute yet unsettled, tensions between the two neighbours remain tense particularly after the Ethiopian Army recently carried out cross-border attack on military camps inside Eritrea; Addis Ababa’s first military incursion since the war ended.
South Sudan hopes to mediate in talks between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
"We will embark on rounds of shuttle diplomacy between the two countries. We are hoping to start in November," South Sudan’s minister for cabinet affairs, Deng Alor, said in October.

Fourteen Eritrean footballers disappear in Uganda | Reuters

Fourteen Eritrean footballers disappear in Uganda


KAMPALA | Mon Dec 3, 2012 5:28pm ESTEritrean team reported missing in Kampala
(Reuters) - At least 14 members of the Eritrea soccer squad have disappeared in Uganda while playing in a regional tournament and may eventually claim asylum, Ugandan officials said on Monday.
Eritrea is one of the world's most secretive states ruled by a reclusive president. This year United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the Asmara government of meting out summary executions, torture and detaining thousands of political prisoners.
In July last year 13 members of an Eritrean soccer club sought asylum in Tanzania while 12 members of the national squad disappeared in Kenya in 2009 after competing in a regional tournament.
Rodgers Mulindwa, a spokesman for the Federation of Ugandan Football Associations (FUFA), told Reuters the players had not been seen since early Sunday.
"It's true, some of the Eritrean players have disappeared. They've not been seen at their hotel since early yesterday and it's very unfortunate," Mulindwa said.
Police spokesman Ibn Sekundi put the number of missing squad members at 18 but said the team's management had informed them the players were simply "checking on relatives".
Eritrea were taking part in the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) competition. Eritrea last played on Friday, losing 2-0 to Rwanda.
Moses Watasa, from Uganda's Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) which is responsible for processing asylum applications, said the Eritrean players had not made contact.
"As of now we haven't had any contact with them so we don't know their whereabouts, but it's possible they might want to seek asylum later," he said.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Richard Lough and John Mehaffey)