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Eritrea: Violation of Rights of the Child and the Old

A week after the demonstration in Asmara, the PFDJ is still rounding up people from different parts of the country, mainly from Asmara. Including underage children.

Youngsters in several towns carried out spontaneous and sporadic demonstrations in support of the demonstrators in Asmara, but the demonstrations were quashed as soon as they started.

So far there is no confirmation of people who died in the demonstration, but dozens were wounded by the beating of the security forces at the time. 

In the last three days, five underage children and about fourteen adults were taken to Halibet hospital for medical attention. They suffered from injuries incurred in the prisons while they were being interrogated. 

Over a year ago in a major event of defiance, 28 youth were shot after they jumped off trucks bound for the Sawa military camp, were also taken to Halibet hospital.

Eritrean youth are rounded up yearly and taken to the Sawa military camp for training before they are deployed in the indefinite “national service” program. The youth are supposed to finish their last year of high school education in Sawa.  

Eritrea is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the first convention the government ratified in 1993. Nonetheless, the government imprisons many underage children and keeps them in prisons together with adults.

Though most students of the Al Diaa school have resumed their studies, Hajji Musa and his colleagues, whose arrest triggered the demonstration of October 31, 2017, are still in prison. Our source indicated they “have refused to sign a document to transfer ownership of the school to the government.”

The school has resumed under the old curriculum which the government wanted to terminate.

Meanwhile, the authorities have promised to free the prisoners once the issue is “resolved”. However, according our source, “the government will not consider the issue resolved, until the board signs the ownership documents to make the confiscation appear legitimate.”

Related reading

The Speech: Defining October 31, 2017!
Nonagenarian Hajji Musa Arrested in Asmara
Unrest in Asmara, US State Department Issues Warning

  • Ismail AA

    Dear Alex,

    On my part, your calm way of engaging is respected and appreciated. First though I should alert you on the point that I did not make gross generalization about those teens. I did not say all of them have been leaving due to Sawa because I understand poverty and harsh economic conditions that give no prospect to the young is also as a severe scourge as Sawa. But frankly I am amazed that having seen the concrete conditions in the country during your visits, I could discern ambivalence in your assessment when you used “might” in connection to Sawa whose damages have been established by domestic and foreign considered opinions.

  • Hameed Al-Arabi

    Hi Alex,

    A government protects its people in general and its children in particular. Shooting directly or to the air has a grave negative effect on the psyche of our children. Believe me if the children continue to move forward to the palace of the mafia leader we would have seen a direct shooting at the children. By this time they are taking children in groups from prison to hospital. First they terrorize them by shooting and now are torturing them in prison. It is impossible to cover criminality of the mafia in Asmara. I think, all their cruel practices upon our people in general and particularly upon our children in Sawa and every military camp or security office is clear to Eritreans and the world.


  • Brhan

    Hi Helen,
    Welcome to and here you enjoy freedom of expressing your view, like you did above.

  • Robel Cali

    Greetings all,

    No one died and no one was wounded in the primary school demonstration that’s been lionized as a revolution by some.

    And the school needs to follow the national curriculum, there is no way around this. The government already moved teens from the Christian schools to public schools so why does this school deserve special treatment?

    Time and time again, the government has shown it is secular towards Christians and let’s Muslims act and behave as they desire because it doesn’t want confrontation from them.

    The government needs to grow a spine and stop letting the threat of confrontation stop it from its secular ambtions.

    I better not read another article on Awate claiming Muslims don’t have it good in Eritrea. From the military to education, Muslims have it way better. Literally, you ate your cake and have it too. This is not secularism.

    • Brhan

      Hi Robel,
      Do not rush. Time will tell. Who died …was wounded or unless you are shuffling between the hospitals of Asmara.

      • Robel Cali

        Hey Brhan,

        No one died or was wounded in the primrary school demonstration. People in Asmara bars were laughing when they seen Al-jazeera on TV reporting 28 people were killed and 100 were wounded in the demonstration. They laughed because they knew there were no casualties. The Italian embassy and VOA people said the same thing. Go call any UN agency or Western embassy in the country.and they will inform you what everyone in Asmara knows. These days, you can’t even fight in Asmara without someone brnging out a phone to record you. If someone was killed pictures and videos would have come out the very day it happened the same way videos of security firing into air did.

        I think certain people wished/hoped there were casualties in the demonstration to create some sort of uprising but the people whishing this are out of touch with the psyche of Eritreans in general and Asmara in particular. Many Parents of the children demonstrating were upset at the organizers for putting their children in that position. Asmarinos were also not pleased at the religious demonstration, especially since they knew Christian school students were being moved to public school without demonstration or the threat of violence on their end.

        • Abdi

          The scope of abuse in eritrea has extended tp school children. No wonder an accompanied minors are flocking to ethiopia. Eritrea will never come out from these abuses for a long time as the country is ruled and control by cliques. Eritrea is a military state. It is time for any one to leave by any way possible Eritrea.

          • Alex

            Hi Abdi,
            The reason most kids go to Ethiopia is nothing to do with abuse. Most of them go because they hear some of their friends were able to reach Europe. What they don’t know is what the poor kids pass through to reach Europe. So do not politicize about kids leaving because of abuse. Know the facts. I have relatives who are 14-15 years old that left illegally to Sudan or Ethiopia thinking they will reach Europe easily. But now once they see how life is in Ethiopia or Sudan they regret for not finishing their school and staying with their parents. If you talking about adults that is a different ball game.

          • Ismail AA

            Dear Alex,
            Honesty and credibility are souls of a person’s integrity. Do you really in depth of your conscience those 14-15 years old relatives of yours were fleeing for the reasons you have stated? How about the ghost of Sawa that keeps on hovering over them and their parents. Do you think this had nothing to do with their flight? I think, sooner or later, individuals that entertain such judgements as required by their political inclinations would be face another day of judgement when things change.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Ismail,

            It’s amazing how many new people are popping up trying to defend the indefensible.

            Just to add what Ismail said:

            you said “If you talking about adults that is a different ball game.”

            This is such a lousy argument. You see in your own world, you have normalized the abuse of every adult in Eritrea. Why do you think even to suggest, if I read you correctly in the statement you made above “we know the abuse to the adult population and I am not denying that and it’s ok and the government got away with it, but please the 14-15 have have not reached the adult age and they are not YET abused” that’s what I read from your comments.

            In tigrina there is a saying ድሕሪ አቦኻ ሞት ጊደኻ.

            The 14-15 knows what’s coming to them and they are trying to leave before they get scooped in Sawa and the military abuse.

            The only person you are lying is your self. All those of you YPFDJ, please in your meetings with Yemane Gebreab, ask him why he doesn’t abolish the endless military service? Then at least you have something to defend. But you are a bunch of hypocrites, you live in the comfort of democracy the west provided, and all you want is to vacation in Eritrea and attend the conference in resorts of Europe and shout Awet Nhafash while your compatriot in Eritrea are suffering by the same government you defend. And FYI..the students in Eritrea, are much more smarter and much more capable than most diaspora raised YPFDJ flag waving youth.


          • Ismail AA

            Dear Berhe,

            One gets even more amazed when it is detectable that they understand what they defend is in fact indefensible. The ambivalence in their minds manifests itself in the language they use voicing their views on obvious facts of an event. You notice them tending to incline towards mute neutrality justified by absence of factors such as action or inaction of the opposition.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Ismail,

            Even their criticism of opposition is completely misplaced. They know the opposition will thrive if they are allowed to operate in their own country. Now instead of asking the President and the PFDJ why any opposition is NOT allowed to operate inside the country, they turn the question upside down and ask, if the opposition were organized this or that…change should come from inside the country as if the government is willing to allow it. It’s a ploy to just delay, and delay and want to IA to stay in power.

            You would think they have learned a lot in the abundance of information and age of Internet and you expect them to be enlightened in the era of knowledge and information. Instead of dreaming of becoming entrepreneurs, educators, health practitioners, activist to bring back the wealth of information and knowledge they have to build their country and improve the lives of their fellow citizens..they choose to become agents of hell, brainwashed in Stalinist doctrine.

            If they must worship IA at least you expect he has something to show for. For example, how Paul Kigame of Rwanda has converted the country from genocide and civil war to one of the best country to do business, tourism and economy. IA on the other handed over a beautiful country, a 100% support of committed population but he squandered it in his reckless adventure.

            Go learn what Rwanda, Tanzania are doing. Learn what North African countries are doing. Learn what west African countries like Ghana are doing. Learn what Djibouti is doing. And then ask yourself why not Eritrea? And for God sake, please stop your excuse of Sanctions, Ethiopia or the US. IA is no Kim Jung Un.


          • Ismail AA

            Selam Berhe,

            I appreciate your for your succinct description about the relationship between a despot and his die-hard loyalists, which rests on the learned attitude that the despotic has monopoly of truth and the zealots do not have to burden themselves with using their faculties to discriminate the truth from wrong. They just have to follow the great source of enlightenment and wisdom (!!). Such attitudes are in fact shared notions of almost despotic regimes. The one in our own country cannot be an exception.

            Thus, for loyalists among our people, the points of reference you have mentioned in your last paragraph do not exist; if they do they do not really matter. They would argue their country under the wise guidance and leadership of the despot has done better and they will read you a whole list of rudimentary dams that go out of use the next rainy season due to silt and malmanagement.

          • Alex

            Hi Behe,

            Sorry to brake it to you I am not YPFDJ. You might be a blind follower of the opposition but I am not. I am open minded who do not support the Gov or the opposition beacuse I am not happy with both of them. As regards to the national service I want it to go to was it was before to 1 yr rather than the current one which is indefinate. I never say it is OK for adults to be abused. What I mean is an adult can think better than 14 years old. I have been to the country few times the last few years and was able to speak to the people in the ground why minors are leaving the country. So I am informed unlike you and not defending the Gov. What did your opposition have done. They can not even able to get the majority people behind them with all the mistakes of the Gov.

          • Berhe Y

            Dear Alex,

            Are you familiar with the phrase”if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck“.

            Off course there is no way that for me to know or verify if you are member of YPFDJ, PFDJ, or you work at the Eritrean consulate or ordinary citizen.

            I labeled you as YPFDJ because all your arguments you were making defending the Eritrean government actions / inaction were similar and the same. For example, you are trying very hard to make a point if the government police have shot in the air or killed people.

            You see, while the argument is the lack of justice and lack of human rights in Eritrea, you whole argument is the secondary nature of the whole issue. In this case, the real problem is the government closing the private school and cause of this whole situation. Not the demonstration, or the shooting in the sky.

            What should the Eritrean government have done for shooting in the sky? Is it investigating? will someone be accountable? What if they have killed civilians by their actions?

            Question for you? Are you absolutely sure that the Eritrean government would not shoot at civilians if they demonstrate in the future? Then if that happened what are you going to say?

            As to the opposition, it doesn’t matter if they are weak or strong. The very fact is, no opposition is allowed to operate in the country. And that’s should be the only story that you need to make an argument. If you don’t support the choice that we have (after opposition are allowed to operate inside) and the government is the better choice for you, all power to you.

            But weakness of the opposition is not the actual problem but the government denying people to oppose freely.


      • Alex

        Hi Brhan,
        Please do not fall for the fake news that was already debunked by BBC,VOA and Human rights watch.

        • Brhan

          አሰርቲ ቍልዑ ክወድቁ ኢዬም!!!

          • Hameed Al-Arabi

            Hi Brhan,

            When they shoot, terrorize and imprison children they feel very powerful. Such cruel steps and activities is not enough to make them rest, thus they gather all atrocities perpetrated around the world, in Ruwanda, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Rohenjiya, etc. and will display it in their tv to terrorize the rest of our children in the country. Really, Isaias has succeeded in gathering a sample of cowardice around him.


    • Daniel Joseph

      It is a something to boast off for the Muslims
      The government of Eritrea is doing nothing out side the rules
      It is a heyday for the Muslims to bragg to propagate , they make a mountain out of a molehill

      • Righteous

        Daniel Joseph

        You are either brainwashed, or just don’t like Muslims. Here’s why, you don’t take into account that we Muslims should be allowed to practice our religion in our country. Also, our women and daughters have all the rights to wear hijab if they choose to themselves. The sooner the likes of you can tolerate other religions than yours the better for our country. We need each other, and that’s a fact. You are trying to divide us by religion and if that happens it will be the end for Eritrea. So, please shut your filthy mouth!

        • Daniel Joseph

          Sorry,I didn’t mean to hurt our Muslim brothers and sisters

          • Righteous

            Selam Daniel Joseph,

            I would also like to apologise for the language I used. It was unnecessary and rude.

      • Brhan

        Hi Daniel,
        Can you tell me the page # of the rules of any document?

      • Acria

        The government of Eritrea has been doing everything out of the rules. Remember EPLF , now PFDG, was entrusted to rule the country emotionally only because they fought to liberate the country. This government was not elected. It abused its entrusted power to an extent of unprecedented dictatorship. Honestly, look at the progress me made the last 26 years and compare it to Ethiopia. We failed miserably! We did everything wrong. I am saying we because we Eritreans let this dictatorial government rule without any question for over 26 years. Sorry Daniel for your sarcasm of the action taken by the courageous 93-year-old Abona Hajji Musa and his youngsters who defied fear and said enough is enough and voiced their anger at the unnecessary request made to compromise their religion. These people not only did it for their own religion, but also they send a message for the other religious schools to standup for their religious freedom. Moreover, not only did they make a mountain, they shook the world by breaking the chain of fear for the first time. Not only ‘Dekhi’ Akhriya, every Eritrean should be proud of these courageous individuals! The revolution for justice just started!

    • Acria

      Hello everyone,
      Al-Diaa Muslim School (DMS) is a proud private institution that follows the school curriculum of the Ministry of Education (ME) like any other school, private or public. On top of the curriculum provided by the ME, it teaches Arabic ( a strategic language, and a language to decipher the Qur’an ) and the religion of Islam. It is not the role of the government to dictate the school not to teach Arabic and religion and especially after 50 years of practice. Haile Selasse didn’t do it, Mengistu Hailemarian didn’t do it, neither will Issaias Afewerki will do it. Trying to dictate every aspect of the life of the Eritrean people will eventually result in revolt. That is the nature of a dictatorial regime. You guys have no idea how special this school is on the residents of Akhriya! Believe me, any attempt to impose a socialist/ communist agenda of the then struggle days will not work on any private institutions. Yo are right the government shouldn’t be afraid of a threat of confrontation. What it should be afraid is a threat of self-destruction and its destruction that will come from the willingness of all Eritreans to stand united against this dictatorship once and for all.

      • Robel Cali

        HI Acria,

        The school needs to follow national curriculum or close down. There is nothing special about the school.

        You love dictators. You worship a deity 5 times a day, you never question his authority, you promote the culture and language of his most important prophet over your own. If Islam wasn’t classified as a religion, we’d be calling it for what it really is: a fascist ideology.

        • Fanti Ghana

          ሰላም ሮቤል

          እንቱፍ በሎ፤ ንሃማኖት ምፅራፍን ምንሻውን ነውሪ እዩ እዙ ወደይ፤
          እዝጊኣብሄር ምሳኻ ይኹን፤ ሰይጣን ካባኻ ይርሓቕ፤፤

        • Haile S.

          Dear Robel,
          You can always make your point without transgressing respect. You don’t need that. The tolerance you are getting from Awate is a great example of respect. Please consider it in your future communication with forumers here. The only way we can come out of our respective trenches is by respecting each other.

          • Robel Cali

            Hi Haile

            Did I insult anyone? No. Did I use vulgar language? No. All I made was a valid opinion/analogy between two dictatorships.

            They want to censor me and that’s fine. It’s their website. However, they hold no moral authority over me. This is the same website that has been disrespecting Tigrinya people for years. They were promoting hate speech against Tigrinya people and calling the government a Christian government. Now all of a sudden Tigrinya people are their brothers and the government is an atheist government. Yea right.

          • Haile S.

            Dear Robel,
            What you said is not true. I haven’t seen hate speech from Awate staff. It looks like you have a preconceived idea that is fundamentally wrong. Remove your tainted glasses and look the bare reality. There is no website whose opinion and its participants are as diverse as you can get.

  • Brhan

    አሰርቲ ቍልዑ ክወድቁ ኢዬም!!!

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