Eritrea: The country that is more closed than North Korea

20 years ago was Eritrea a shining hope of an independent African country that could and would himself. Today fleeing population.

It was the world’s most optimistic country.

In the early 1990s, Eritrea imbued with the idea of a better life in freedom and independence. A better kind of country. Three decades of struggle for freedom against the big neighbor Ethiopia had just ended and independence in sight.

On 24 May 1991 drove the rebel army into the Eritrean capital Asmara. They were greeted with cheers.

– Everyone was really upbeat about to discover the many good things that happened to the country. Everyone around me was filled with an optimistic feeling that we would not repeat the same mistakes that other African countries had done, Aaron Behane that in the years after independence was chief editor of Eritrea’s largest newspaper, told BBC News in an previous interview.

Absolutely special atmosphere

Like other newly independent countries were Eritrea filled with hope for the future. The American journalist Michela Wrong has written the book ”I Did not Do it for You” on the Eritrean liberation struggle.

She has previously told BBC News:

– There was this absolutely wonderful atmosphere in Asmara. People came back after many years in exile. People had money, and everyone was talking about this amazing place without corruption, that would not be dependent on outside help. It was really something new to visit Eritrea in the early 1990s.

But the bright outlook remains on the horizon for the Eritrean people, who for 30 years had fought a uphill battle against Ethiopia’s overwhelming superiority. And won.

For Eritrea’s new president, Isaias Afwerki, the war against Ethiopia never connected.

Therefore, all the country’s inhabitants serve military service. It lasts longer and longer. Eventually, war breaks against the neighbor again beyond a small piece of land does not matter.

Al focus on New York

Criticism rains down upon the president from war-weary residents in Eritrea. It culminates with an open letter in the country’s newspapers from 15 prominent politicians. And then bother the president no longer be the leader in a country with free press and open debate.

Just 12 days after the attack on the World Trade Center, while the world’s eyes are on New York beats the authorities in Eritrea. The former chief editor of Eritrea’s largest newspaper remembers the day.

– They came to arrest me, so I had to flee. But all my colleagues were arrested. I am one of the only Eritrean journalists who were lucky to get away, have Aaron Behane told from his exile in Canada.

One of the arrested journalists was the Swedish-Eritrean Dawit Isaak, who was taken back to his country to help with reconstruction.

Since then there has been no official message from the Eritrean authorities about what has become of Dawit Isaak.

Today, Eritrea number 179 on Reporters without Borders list of countries the press. It is at the bottom, just below North Korea and Turkmenistan.

Military service without limit

Today this conscription in Eritrea for all under 50 years – almost without exception – and has no fixed length. Military service can last forever.

The first survey of conscription impact on the population is made by Professor Gaim Kibreab from South Bank University in London.

The same professor as Friday, according to Berlingske withdrew its opinions to the Immigration Service’s controversial report back.

Also read the Experts: Rigging in Danish asylum report

In the study, he interviewed 215 former conscripts. They had an average serving six and a half years of ”slavery”. Many more than twice as long before they had managed to escape.

The country emptied of young

The prospect of unlimited military service has received large parts of Eritrea’s youth to flee.

Spokesman for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, Adrian Edwards said on November 14 that it manages some 2,000 Eritreans a month to leave the country via Sudan and Ethiopia.

In October, the figure, however, is as high as 5000. At the same time, he says that there has been a tripling of the number of Eritrean asylum seekers in European countries in the first ten months of 2014. The majority of them have sought asylum in Sweden and Germany.

90 percent of those who leave Eritrea, is between 18 and 24. Its future is about to leave it.

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