The country where hope died

If Eritrea, which was seen as Africa’s great hope – today known as the
continent of North Korea. What was it that went wrong? Hear voices from Sawa , Bagarmossen and parliament concerning broken dreams , lifelong slave labor and torture camps on the road to freedom in Sweden .

Autumn boating accidents off the Italian island of Lampedusa received great attention worldwide. But what was it that pushed African young men to risk their lives in dangerous boats?

The majority of those who died at sea were from Eritrea , and they were part of a growing stream of Eritreans fleeing their homeland . Last year nearly 5,000 Eritreans sought asylum in Sweden , twice as many as in 2012. But despite the fact that Eritreans are by far the second largest group after asyslsökande Syrians , so is the reason why they flee far less known than, say, the civil war in Syria.

One important reason is the dreaded national service – a sort of combined military service and community that all Eritreans must do and that usually has no set time limit . Many people make this national service for decades and it is also forbidden to leave the country during the time that you should be at the state’s disposal.

Conflict and less Linda Jensen Kidane met Filimon who managed to escape from the military prison he translated and who are currently living in Sweden .

But even after leaving Eritrea remain many dangers. One of the worst is the risk of being kidnapped at the border or from one of the refugee camps that many Eritreans ports ii neighboring Sudan.

They kidnapped taken to torture camps in the Egyptian Sinai where they tortured to pressure relatives around the world of money. According to human rights activists estimated around 30,000 Eritreans and Sudanese nationals have been subjected to abuse , a business that is worth billions .

Conflict and less Linda Jensen Kidane met a young man , also named Filimon , and almost completely lost his hands during the torture in the Sinai . Today he lives in Sweden .

Although the flow of refugees from Eritrea to Sweden become bigger in recent years and has Eritreans long been part of the Swedish society. Many thousands came to Sweden on 80 – and 90’s , fleeing the 30- year-long war that eventually led to independence in 1991. Many , including children of exiled Eritreans , have continued to engage in the country they have roots in.

But among exiled Eritreans have also emerged quite different interpretations of how the country evolved after independence. Conflict and less Kajsa Boglind have met three locals with roots in Eritrea and that looks completely different on the situation in the country – Social Democrat parliamentarian Arhe Hamednaca and Manna Yohannes and Fethawi Mehari involved in an Eritrean youth group sympathetic to the regime.

Guests in the studio is a freelance journalist Donald Boström with extensive experience in covering Eritrea and who repeatedly met and interviewed the president and Meron Estefanos , human rights activist and journalist of the radio station Radio Erena .

Host: Ivar Ekman
Producer: Kajsa Boglind

Extras: Interview with Cedric Barnes , director of the think-tank International Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project on situation in Eritrea :



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