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Eritrea persecutes activists who have fled the country, Amnesty says

Date: 27.6.19 Source: Bloomberg, Samuel Gebre

Human-rights activists who risked their lives and fled a brutal regime in Eritrea are still not safe to criticize the government from outside the country, according to Amnesty International.

Eritrean government officials and supporters of the ruling party have attacked activists in countries including Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K, Amnesty said in a report on Thursday. The rights group said it documented attacks on several people including Eritrean Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Father Mussie Zerai. The perpetrators use several tactics including “death threats, physical assault and spreading of lies,” Amnesty said.

The one-party state that sits on a key shipping strait linking the Red Sea and the Suez Canal has been accused of human rights violations including crimes against humanity by a United Nations commission. When Eritrea and Ethiopia ended two decades of enmity last year, Eritreans expected changes similar to those they saw coming out of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, such as the release of political prisoners. But rights groups say nothing has changed.

For activists, “fleeing Eritrea has not provided them with much respite from the repression many people die trying to escape,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. They “have to constantly look over their shoulders and watch every word they say,” Nyanyuki said.

Eritrean information minister, Yemane G. Meskel, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.