UN says Eritrea is Committing Mass Crimes Against Humanity: Eritrea Refutes the Inquiry

UN says Eritrea is Committing Mass Crimes Against Humanity: Eritrea Refutes the Inquiry

Lielit Kebede, Michiyo Tanabe, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The United Nations (UN) is adamant that the government of Eritrea is committing mass crimes against the people of this nation. Not surprisingly, Eritrea refutes the findings of the UN and claims that the inquiry is biased and lacks legitimacy. However, it is clear that the UN seeks to put international pressure on Eritrea based on the strong language of the inquiry.

Eritrea immediately poured cold water on the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) by stressing that no substance was forthcoming. This is based on the inquiry hinting strongly at “a shoot to kill policy” towards people fleeing Eritrea and the enslavement of nationals from this country.

Mike Smith, chief investigator of the COI, says, “We probably think that there are three to four hundred thousand people who have been enslaved.”

He continued, “What we are asking for is the Security Council to contemplate targeted responses.” This applies to individuals within the Eritrean government that are deemed to be responsible for human rights abuse.

AFP reports on the findings of the COI by stressing Eritrea’s government is guilty of committing crimes against humanity since independence a quarter-century ago with up to 400,000 people “enslaved”, and should face international justice, the UN said Wednesday.”

If 400,000 people have been enslaved under the leadership of Isaias Afwerki, President of Eritrea since 1991, then why did it take the UN so long to make a thorough inquiry? In this sense, part of the issue may revolve around mass migration from this nation that is impacting greatly on parts of Europe. Yet according to elites in Eritrea, the issue is economic migration and not people fleeing because of systematic persecution.

Girma Asmerom, Asmara’s Ambassador to the UN, refutes the findings of the COI for being based on mass hyperbole. Asmerom responded angrily to allegations that the Eritrean government is killing people leaving this nation for pastures new.

Asmerom denied the idea of a shoot to kill policy. He said, Where did they get this?” He reiterated, “That is another lie.”

However, with the UN commission stressing “Crimes against humanity have been committed in a widespread and systematic manner in Eritrean detention facilities, military training camps and other locations across the country over the past 25 years… Particular individuals, including officials at the highest levels of state, the ruling party – the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice – and commanding officers bear responsibility for crimes against humanity.”

Then it now remains to be seen how the UN will respond to the commission and how leading nations will interact with Eritrea. After all, recently the UN rebuked Saudi Arabia and other nations for killing children and other crimes against the people of Yemen. Yet this was followed by a huge climb down because of external pressure and the influence of Saudi Arabia.

In the meantime, grinding poverty continues to blight Eritrea and clearly economic migrants will seek to leave this nation. However, is the issue “economic” or “enormous internal persecution” based on the policies of the central government?




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