Eritrea. A book published during the year revealed that
Eritrea's regime is involved in cruel human trafficking of
Eritrean refugees. Some victims may endure torture and
sexual abuse, some are executed and relatives are pressured
to pay the ransom. Experts have interviewed about 200
victims and point out a group of Eritrean men with links to
Eritrean government officials and military as well as
criminal gangs. The book shows that human rights violations
in Eritrea drive young Eritreans into exile, and individuals
in the ruling party profit from smuggling and trafficking
with these refugees.
Countryaah.com, the book "Human Trafficking and Trauma in the Digital
Era" is a collaboration between exiliterate experts and
professors at universities in the Netherlands and Zimbabwe.
At the beginning of the year, a UN report stated that
trade relations had been discovered between the
dictatorships in Eritrea and North Korea. Military
communications equipment en route from North Korea to
Eritrea had been discovered and stopped at sea. UN sanctions
prohibit such trade with North Korea.
In April, the African Commission on Human and People's
Rights condemned Eritrea's imprisonment of Eritrean-Swedish
journalist Dawit Isaak, who was held for over 15 years
without prosecution or judgment. The Commission demanded the
release of Isaak and other imprisoned journalists in
Eritrea, the country considered to have the world's worst
Later in the year, the European Parliament passed a
resolution condemning Eritrea's violation of human rights
and demanding the release of Dawit Isaak.
Tensions at the disputed border between Eritrea and
Djibouti increased in June, after Qatar withdrew a military
observer force that has been there since 2010. According to
Djibouti, Eritrean military entered the evacuated area,
which is disputed. The African Union (AU) appealed to the
two countries for calm and decided to send a commission of
inquiry. The UN Security Council called on the countries to
use peaceful means.
UN agency UNESCO decided in July to add Eritrea's capital
Asmera to its list of World Heritage Sites. According to
UNESCO, Asmera's architecture from the 19th and early 20th
century Italian colonial rule is unique. Asmera is sometimes
called Little Rome.
Former Patriarch Abune Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox
Church attended a Mass in Asmera Cathedral in July. It was
the first time he had been seen in public since 2007, when
he was placed under house arrest by the regime after being
deprived of office. Antonios had demanded the release of
political prisoners and refused banned regime opponents.
At the end of the year, protests erupted against the
regime in Asmera, something unique in the heavily controlled
Eritrea. Pupils at a private Muslim school were reported to
have protested against the arrest of the headmaster and the
government demanded a stop for religious instruction, end of
ban on hijab and end of separate classes for boys and girls.
Security forces must have responded with gunfire to
disperse the protesters, and according to the US embassy,
protests and gunfire occurred at several locations in the
city. The internet was shut down and several young men were
reportedly arrested by the military. An opposition group in
exile claimed that several people were shot dead and many
wounded, but the regime toned down the details of violence
and claimed that no one was injured.