Eritrea. The year began with a military uprising in the capital Asmera, where a couple of hundred soldiers entered the Ministry of Information, which houses the state etheric media. The TV chief was forced to read a message that was said to contain messages that all political prisoners should be released and that the constitution of the country should be implemented. According to Amnesty International, Eritrea has at least 10,000 political prisoners, including Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak. Many prisoners are held in underground caves and under “unbelievably bad conditions” with extensive torture, and their families rarely know where they are, according to Amnesty. Many die in captivity.
According to Countryaah, the closed country’s authoritarian regime under President Isaias Afwerki claimed that there were no signs of a coup or rebellion. According to an opposition website, the council had been led by an army officer who had previously worked for political change, an appraiser believed the protest was about the very difficult conditions in the army.
According to Amnesty, there were many arrests following the soldier’s uprising. According to Amnesty’s Eritrean expert, there was information about conflict between senior officers and the dictator Afwerki, where the former has control over the country and the president of Asmera.
Eritrea’s 1997 constitution has never been put into operation, opposition parties are banned and independent media has been silenced. Reporters Without Borders ranked 2013 Eritrea as the worst in the world in terms of press freedom, second worst was North Korea. The food supply ceased and many Eritreans were dependent on relief. Although border guards shoot to kill, more and more young Eritreans fled from oppression and the threat of food shortages, and not least to avoid the harsh military service for both women and men. It has been described as a form of life trait, with many being held for years and subjected to abuse and forced labor for officers. See DIGOPAUL for map and location of Eritrea.
According to the UN, Eritreans flee in the thousands every month, but not even in exile do they escape the regime. Eritreans in Sweden testified during the year how they were threatened with kidnapping and death, if they did not pay large sums to extortionists who are considered linked to the Eritrea regime. Hundreds of families in Sweden are said to have been extorted from the Sinai desert in Egypt, where kidnappers have kept their relatives under inhuman conditions of torture and rape. In Sweden, three people were arrested on suspicion of extortion, people robbery and preparation for murder.
Many flying Eritreans cross the Red Sea and then on to Sinai. Others flee the country road to Sudan or Ethiopia, and some continue to Egypt. From Egypt and other North African countries, thousands of Eritreans traveled across the Mediterranean to Italy during the year by paying high sums to human smugglers. However, many of the fleets went down. When a boat with hundreds of refugees and migrants sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa in October, at least 365 people drowned, and most of them are believed to have been Eritreans.