May 14, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – A senior Eritrean diplomat who had been representing the Red sea nation at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa abandoned one of the world’s most repressive regime in Asmara.
The state-run, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) on Wednesday reported that Mohammed Idris, a member of the Eritrean ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) has sought asylum in Ethiopia in a latest sign of discontent to the secretive Eritrean government.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after 31 years of bitter struggle against successive Ethiopian regimes.
Idris fought during the armed struggle for Independence with the current President Isaias Afewerki led Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and had previously served top positions within the Eritrean government.
“A people that for a long time fought for justice and freedom are now being subjected to injustice,” Idris said in an interview with EBC ”This forced me to take this decision”
There is no an immediate reaction from Asmara over the report.
The Eritrean opposition described the diplomats’ desertion as a big blow to the Eritrean regime which also is accused of gross human right abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture and arrests.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune, Samuel Gedion welcomed the diplomat’s decision but said desertion alone isn’t enough.
“As the country’s top figure, Idris knows lots of secrets of the regime and he has now to expose the ill-acts of the regime,” said Gedion.
“He must tell the world, the atrocities the dictatorial regime is committing to the innocent people” he said.
Eritrea is facing UN sanctions for supporting, financing and arming al Qaeda allied Al shebaab militants inside Somalia.
Gedion further said the ex-diplomat has also to expose the ties the regime has with regional terrorists and its destabilizing nature in the volatile east African region.
Eritrean government has zero-tolerance to dissent and anyone attempting to do so will be dealt harshly.
Defections are very common in Eritrea mainly to escape an indefinite mandatory military service and worsening poverty situation.
According to exiled Eritrean opposition groups in Addis Ababa, citizens found fleeing are considered as traitors and will be charged with treason, a crime which carries death penalty.
Previously hundreds of members of the Eritrean military, the Air force, the Navy and other military and government officials have defected to neighbouring countries in protest to repression.
Every month some 4,000 Eritreans flee their country to neighbouring countries mainly to Ethiopia and Sudan.
There are over 90,000 Eritrean refugees in a number of camps in Ethiopia.
Relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea remain at odds after the two neighbours fought border war from 1998-2000 which has killed more than 70,000 people.
Currently there are over 10 different Eritrean opposition groups in Ethiopia.
Previously, Addis Ababa has openly expressed readiness to support the Eritrean opposition groups in their struggle to topple the long-time ruler, Afeworki’s regime.
The one party state had never conducted elections since president Afeworki assume office following independence.
The reclusive Red Sea nation has also been referred by international Human right groups as the North Korea of Africa.