“Brutal Eritrean Regime Spurs Risky Exodus, U.N. Says”
The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2015, p.A6
“Some 5,000 Eritreans embark each month on a treacherous exodus from their Horn of Africa homeland, the United Nations said, driven out by ‘gross human-rights violations’ by their government that amount to ‘crimes against humanity.’ In a 500-page report released on Monday, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights described a secretive Eritrean government it says terrorizes its citizens through mass surveillance, forced disappearances, torture and more ‘systematic, widespread…human-rights abuses.’ … Eritreans were the second-largest group of migrants to reach the European Union countries in 2014, after Syrians, according to the EU’s border agency. Those numbers of Eritreans tripled from the year before, to 34,500 from 11,300. … Their nation of 6.3 million has been in turmoil for more than 50 years. President Isaias Afwerki took office in 1993 after leading a protracted fight for independence from Ethiopia. The U.N. report said Mr. Afwerki’s militaristic tendencies have given rise to persistent extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and forced national service. The most basic rights are restricted in Eritrea, including the freedom of movement inside the country, the U.N. said, citing the testimony of hundreds of anonymous witnesses. Eritreans also can’t leave their country without a state-sanctioned exit visa that is hard to come by, the report said. For those who do manage to leave, the report said, espionage extends beyond Eritrea’s borders to the diaspora in Europe and the U.S. It also described monitoring and checks on Internet use inside the country. Forced conscription is another common means of controlling youths and exploiting their free labor, the report found. ‘Forced labor is so prevalent in Eritrea that all sectors of the economy rely on it and all Eritreans are likely to be subject to it at one point in their lives,’ it said.”
Quickie analysis: Despite the optimism that followed independence, Eritrea has become the North Korea of Africa.