Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is Sweden relevant to Swedish-Eritreans?

Sweden is irrelevant" Issais Afewerki, President of Eritrea, Asmara National Palace-Eritrea.

Back then in 2009, this is what Donald Böstrom, a freelance Swedish TV journalist was told when he asked Eritrea's incumbent what kind of relationship his country wants with Sweden. Fast forward 2013! I don't want to make a generalization but as an outsider and from my observation of some actual incidents in Sweden; I was left with no alternative but to assume that there are large numbers of Swedish-Eritreans who consider their home/second country-Sweden- as irrelevant as well. 
These group of people proved my assumption right on Friday afternoon ( March 22, 2013) by attacking me
and robbing my camera in a broad-light while I was filming their rally held against the alleged Swedish media's (i.e. SVT & Expressen) smear campaign on the Swedish-Eritreans and the burning of three of their community centers on February 25, 2013. The protesters alleged themselves as victims of harassment/demonization by the Swedish media; and yet they allow a mob to onslaught a lone journalist who did nothing but his job. This incident which happened to me isn't random; it rather occurred to many exiled Eritreans and Swedish journalists and dissident Eritreans here in Sweden and else where in the world for the last couple of years. But first let's have some highlights about the “invincible Eritrea” and then my March 22nd awful ordeal will follow.
Africa's North Korea
Facts About Eritrea
Population: 6.2 Million (two third are malnourished)
Ruler: President Issais Afewerki since 1991
Political party: People's Front for Democracy & Justice (PFDJ)
Constitution: maybe in fifty years
Private press: maybe in fifty years &  ranks 179 in freedom index in 2012
Military service: mandatory & indefinite for those aged between 18-45,1054.html

Its leader, Issayas Afewerki, who is one of the founding members of Eritrean People Liberation's Front (EPLF), rules with iron grip and turned his country into the biggest prison in Africa. Extrajudicial killings and imprisonment of journalists (including Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Issak), dissidents, leaders and followers of religious groups and others have become the trademark of this “invincible” and “self-reliant” nation. Afworki, who was once praised as one of the “new breeds” of African democrats by America's former President Bill Clinton; has isolated his country because of his uncalled conflicts with the surrounding neighbors as well as the rest of the world. 
Ironically, the main export of the “Africa's Singapore”, are tens of thousands of its citizens who are fleeing to all over the world due to the problems I mentioned earlier. Thousands of Eritrean children, men, women and the youth perished while crossing the Sinai desert, the Mediterranean & Red seas over the last few years. Sadly but truly, thousands of them who survived this risky route to safety are being kidnapped/raped/tortured/killed/bonded/sold to various slave owners and bleed to death while their internal organs are harvested by their Bedouin captors in the Sinai desert who're demanding huge amount of ransom money for their release from relatives/family members in Europe and North America. Very interestingly, this international human-trafficking criminal ring which some group alleges also involves Eritrean senior military officers stretches its tentacle from Asmara to everywhere in the world including Sweden where three of these alleged Swedish-Eritrean suspects were caught here in Sweden a couple of weeks ago. It seems like last week's well organized rally was meant to divert attention from the dire situation in Eritrea and blackmail the Swedish media which exposed such crimes and money-laundering activities of loyalists to Eritrean government.

Who rules the streets of Sweden, Police Officers or the lawless hooligans?

Intimidation, harassment, bullying and mob attacks are well known common practices being used by this group to avoid the presence of the press and anyone who looks suspiciously from Eritrean opposition groups and/or arch-foe enemy -Ethiopia and I happened to be one of these victims during last week's demonstration of supporters of Eritrean government. It was surreal, I had documented over a dozen demonstrations of various groups from different countries here in Sweden including a rally held by Eritrean opposition groups, but this was for the first time that I experienced such violent and unprovoked mob aggression. 
In Contrast to these civilities that I've seen by many of the protesters in Stockholm in the past, one of the demonstrators of last week's rally by Eritrean government supporters ordered me to stop filming. I asked him why and before I knew it he punched me on my face and then went into his cheering crowd dangling with my camera as a trophy while his fellow country men/women finish his job on a helpless prey. Paradoxically, belo belo ( which means in Eritrea's official language Tigringa, hit/beat him), was the only thing that I was hearing lying on the asphalt from those “peaceful” but angry looking demonstrators who went to streets for being “negatively depicted”by the Swedish media; they showed their true color and luckily it is all in my audio-recorder. 
Anyway to make the long story short, after several kicks and punches, I was able to escape from this unwarranted mob attack and reached to the Police officers who were standing one meter away from where I was attacked. However what shocked me most was the indifference of those Swedish police officers who are paid to keep law and order and above all defend victims of such crimes. I told them what happened right away pleading them to recover my camera; surprisingly, I was instead admonished like a naughty 3rd grader to stop screaming and calm-down. A couple of those thugs intimidated me “leave our place, orelse you will get more punches if you don't!, in front of those indifferent police officers who left me alone to deal with those vagabonds by myself. Really? I thought we fled our respective repressive governments including the “peaceful” protestors to a country where freedom of movement and expression was enshrined a century ago; I was damn wrong, on March 22nd I felt like I was in the military camps/prisons of Eritrea. Shocking is an understatement as far as the the reaction of those officers were concerned but now I realized they have good reasons to be scared of those street-thugs, as they themselves or some of their colleagues were on the receiving end several times in the past few years in suburbs of Stockholm. A case in point is, stone-throwing pro-regime Eritrean youth group who organized a concert in a Stockholm suburb attacked Swedish Police last year. The concert was part of a larger conference which was organized by the Eritrean youth group, Young People's Front for Democracy and Justice (YPFDJ). Now, we know who rules the streets of Stockholm or Sweden, eller hur?

Scream “victim” to cover-up crime

Those demonstrators have/had never been cared for their fellow compatriots who fled Eritrea and are languishing right now in the Sinai desert or in various detention centers of various countries in the middle-east and Europe; covering up the crimes of their Pharaoh in Asmara by making loud noises like the ones in Stockholm and in every major towns of the world, is rather their number ONE priority. I met a couple of newly arrived Eritrean young men/women at the refugee camps who told me their horrific and inhumane experiences in the Eritrean military camps/prisons as well as in the refugee camps of Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Italy and Greek. Apparently, the atrocities of Eritrean tyrant against his own people who claimed to liberate them makes the brutal Dergue regime of Ethiopia looks like a bunch of catholic nuns lost in the woods. As a result, the influx of Eritrean refugees has tripled over the past few decades and Sweden is one of their top 10 destination.

Does Sweden really matter?

Well, who cares after all Sweden is such a politically correct country which allows its “integrated” Swedish citizens to rally in support of dictatorial regime which they or their parents claimed the reason why they left Eritrea. Does Sweden and its democratic values really matter? I doubt if it matters to those demonstrators. Sweden hosts supporters of African tyrants who intimidate diaspora dissidents, a case in point is Meron Estifanos- government critic Eritrean journalist/activist- who was harassed/given death threats by one of the regime's cadres in Gothenburg last year. Guess who? It was Tedros Issak whose brother Dawit Issak has been in jail since 2001 and nobody knows if he is alive or dead. 
Die-hard and blind supporters of Eritrean regime have ruined the reputation of other decent, law abiding and hard-working Swedish-Eritreans who become a minority or silent majority because of the intimidation and bullying of the former group. Afewerki's government obliges its citizen who live all over the world to wire their 2% annual income to buy weapons, arm terrorist groups and/or terrorize its own people. What is more terrifying and disturbing is that there are tens of thousands of second or third generations of Eritrean origin in different parts of the world who devoutly worship and willing to invest their time/energy/brains etc for one of the worst dictator in Africa as they are brainwashed/indoctrinated by thousands of agents/supporters of Eritrean regime. 
I think, these young people are one of the lost generations of Swedish citizens with immigrant backgrounds who are living testimonies of how the Swedish integration policies failed them miserably. If Sweden doesn't act to rectify these critical problems; soon or later it will derail towards a political anarchy that most west European countries are struggling with. Here we go Sweden, you reap what you sow. If you aren't relevant to the dictator in Eritrea why would you and your democratic values matter to the next generation of Swedish-Eritreans while you allow them to be groomed by Eritrean officials and their die hard supporters/defenders who are roaming freely on your backyard? No wonder far right movements are gaining momentum all over Europe including Sweden and the day the Swedish Democrats is in power, things will be different. Too many freedoms have been lost already - including freedom of speech. It's time to stop this.

No comments:

Post a Comment