Sunday, February 13, 2011

Forgotten Eritrea

Eritrea is mostly known as the part of Ethiopia where some of the worst famines happened in the 1980s as a result of the socialist collectivisation and forced relocation policies of the Mengistu dictatorship.   It gained independence in 1993 following a referendum, and then the rot really set in.

Eritrea has a constitution proclaiming multi-party democracy, shame it is ineffective.

Eritrea is in truth a one-party police state.  No other parties are allowed to exist.  No independent media is permitted.  In 2001 all independent newspapers were closed down.  Critics of the government are arrested and imprisoned without trial.  There are no foreign correspondents in Eritrea, resulting in Reporters without Borders rating it as less free than North Korea (which does at least allow foreign journalists in sporadically).   Eritrea only recognises Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran Christianity, persecuting other faiths and Christian sects, prohibiting private meetings of worship of other faiths. 

20% of Eritrea is under control of rebel forces of various groups, including Islamists.

It has shut down the limited internet access it had.  Banned satellite TV because of the news in Egypt.

There was a lot of support for Eritrea getting independence from Ethiopia given the mistreatment of Eritreans by the socialists who were in power in Ethiopia.

However today it is virtually ignored.  Yes, once again, Mubarak might have been a murdering thieving dictator, but he was a lover of freedom and virtue compared to the People's Front for Democracy and Justice.

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