Over 200 Eritrean Opposition Supporters Arrested at German Festival Amid Violent Clashes


Authorities recently showcased various items purportedly utilized in assaults against the police, subsequent to violent confrontations that led to over 200 Eritrean opposition supporters getting arrested in Germany.

The clashes, which disturbed the peace and escalated into violence, emerged just as an Eritrean cultural festival was due to commence in the city of Stuttgart on a Saturday. The festival was the initiative of those who held allegiance to the regime of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.

The police dispatched to manage the situation found themselves ensnared in an outburst of “massive violence” emanating from the clashing groups, according to the deputy police commissioner. The adversary’s aggressive tactics caught them off guard as “neither the extent nor the intensity of the violence was apparent in advance,” declared Carsten Hoefler.

The security officials encountered ambushes with bats, nails, metal rods, bottles, and stones, leading to six officers being hospitalised, and the arrest of 228 people. The city’s officials have strongly condemned this act of violence. Stuttgart Mayor Frank Nopper underscored that swift and firm action must be taken against instances of foreign conflicts breeding unrest on German soil.

This turmoil forms part of a larger pattern of similar protests that have been occurred recently. In the backdrop of Eritrea’s 30th independence anniversary from Ethiopia, members of its diaspora have been hosting corresponding festivals over the last few months, many of which have unfortunately ended in conflict.

Eritrea, recognised as one of Africa’s most impoverished countries, is a single-party state characterised by repression and extreme militarism. It is estimated by the United Nations that hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have fled the country given its deplorable conditions.

The nation has been rated by Reporters Without Borders as having the worst press freedom globally, falling even below North Korea. Access to all publications is stringently controlled by the Eritrean government.

Similar violent incidents have occurred in other parts of the world; in Stockholm, Sweden, over 50 people were injured and festival booths set ablaze during a protest following a cultural event in August. In July, an Eritrean music festival was disrupted by German police using batons and pepper spray to contain crowds who labelled the event as “Eritrean government propaganda”.

Israeli president, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced intentions to deport Eritrean asylum seekers involved in Tel Aviv riots earlier this month. This announcement was made after Israeli police deployed stun grenades, tear gas, and sponge-tipped bullets against hundreds of opponents to the Eritrean regime at a cultural festival. Consequently, a three-day Eritrean cultural festival scheduled in Toronto, Canada, last month was deterrently cancelled after supporters and opponents of Eritrea’s regime clashed.


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