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Eritrea “intimidates emigrants into paying tax”

May 28, 2010

afrol News, 26 May – The numerous refugees from Eritrea around the world are now mobilising to counter “blackmailing” and “surveillance” of them by “agents of the Eritrean regime.” The Eritrean Diaspora claims it is intimidated to pay an illegal “tax” to Eritrea.

The Information Ministry in the Eritrean capital Asmara regularly proudly sends out messages about Eritreans in Europe and North America participating in large demonstrations in support of the regime. But most of these demonstrators had themselves fled repression and human rights abuses by the same regime.

This apparent contradiction is easily explained, according to a rapidly expanding group of emigrated Eritreans seeking a second liberation from the Asmara regime. Eritrea, they hold, entertains a large network of agents thoroughly placed in the Diaspora, intimidating exiled Eritreans into participating in pro-regime rallies and even paying a “tax” to their old homeland. If not, their families back home are victimised.

In the US and Canada, hosting large numbers of Eritrean refugees, the Diaspora is becoming increasingly divided. So far, the dominant public voice of Eritreans in North America has been one of supporting the Asmara regime and participating in the largest pro-government rallies outside Eritrea.

But slowly, Eritreans are liberating them from the many agents in North America. Suddenly, some even dare to stand forward in the press with their full name, criticising torture, persecution of journalists and religious repression in Eritrea. Protests in front of Eritrean embassies are increasingly seen, with Eritrean immigrants participating. In the US, the human rights group Amnesty now has its own Eritrean Diaspora under-group.

Swiss targeting Eritrean agents
In Switzerland, protests are now targeting Eritrean agents. Here, an Eritrean immigrant presenting himself under the pseudonym “Dereje M” is seeking help from Swiss authorities to expel 28 named Eritrean men exposed by the Diaspora as agents from the Eritrean regime. “Dereje” himself has been “threatened” and “blackmailed” by Eritrean agents operating in Switzerland, using “mafia methods” to force immigrants to pay a 2 percent “income tax” to the Asmara regime.

Several Swiss cantons have now started investigations into what is widely accepted as a “network of Eritrean agents disguised as asylum seekers blackmailing political refugees.” Cantonal deputy Hans Egli says he has information that “refugees not paying the forced taxes of the [Eritrean] government are put on a ‘red list’, and their families at home are harassed or even killed.”

In addition to pay an “income tax”, Eritrean emigrants are forced to participate in political acts in support of the regime they fled from. On 22 February, some 3,000 persons demonstrated against the sanctions imposed by the UN against the Eritrean regime. According to research done by Mr Egli, a large part of the demonstrators had been “forced to participate.”

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