Eritrea And Its Unusual Embassies: Part 3
Four years ago, the United States imposed travel restrictions on Eritrean diplomats and consular staff in retaliation for the Eritrean government’s restriction on the movement of American consulate staff in Eritrea, and the opening and inspection of diplomatic pouches. The Eritrean embassy staff were restricted to remain within a 25 mile radius of the Eritrean embassy and, for four years, Eritrean officials have been devising increasingly creative ways to flaunt the restriction.
As reported previously by Gedab News, Yemane Gebreab, the political director of Eritrea’s sole legal and ruling party, PFDJ, and a man who has acquired the dubious distinction of being an “extraordinary threat” to US national security by Presidential Order 13536, took advantage of an entry visa that was granted to him for the sole purpose of attending the UN General Assembly session in New York (September 25, 2010) to board a train and sneak to Washington, DC and host a meeting at the so-called Eritrean Cultural & Civic Center (ECCC.)
Earlier that month, between the 2nd and 5th of September, the Eritrean ambassador to the United States, Girmai Ghebremariam and his staff hosted a meeting of the youth franchise of the ruling party, the so-called YPFDJ, at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia, which is “35 miles Northwest of Washington DC”, according to the conference center’s website. The YPFDJ is the brain child of Yemane Gebreab.
The meeting place was not announced. Attendants were asked to call a number and that they would be instructed where to meet so they could be bussed to the undisclosed location which now Gedab News found out was at the National Conference Center of Leesburg, VA. Yemane Gebreab addressed the conference via web video.
According to our sources, US authorities have been investigating these violations but they have not publicized them. The US decision to take a low-key approach to its investigations, along with Ambassador Girmai Ghebremariam’s trips to Ottawa (he was recently accredited to the Canadian government) has led some Eritreans to erroneously conclude that the United States has relaxed its travel restrictions on Eritrean authorities.
According to our sources, the Eritrean Ambassador will leave the United States in December and might not be replaced by an ambassador as the “US has requested the minimum level of representation” by the PFDJ at its embassy in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, the US ambassador post to Eritrea is vacant and the embassy is being represented by its Charge d’Affaires, Joel Reifman