Schibbye after homecoming: "Spent mood in Asmara"
Martin Schibbye has recently visited Eritrea. Last night he came home. In addition to looking into the sanctions, he has interviewed ministers, young people, miners and asked questions ranging from press freedom to the state of the country.
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Q: Your impressions from the country?
Martin Schibbye: "The situation was far more exciting than during my previous visit. The demonstration outside the Department of Education recently was the first since 1991 and had really shaken about Asmara, although the media data of 38 dead did not prove to be correct. It was also preceded by less attentive but more challenging protests among students at one of the military colleges near the president's holiday home. So there is a new generation of eritreans who openly demand changes.
"There are also major projects in rural development that impress, where the government is focusing on water, solar, education and agriculture. The government seems to be in a hurry to secure access to water and launch new projects such as milk production to meet the needs. But still many are fighting at the minimum of existence with their lives and life is a struggle. Currently, according to UN agencies, approximately 900 people a month fly to Sudan.
WORLD HERITAGE. The architecture of the capital Asmara was recently occupied by UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Q: What have you done in the country?
Martin Schibbye: - I traveled from the coast and Massawa to the east to the Bisha copper mine in the west and interviewed people and sought answers. I aim to write a series of reports as of last year. In addition to the report on this, I'm working on an upcoming book on Eritrea. Blankspot also had a school project during the fall where I visited 20 schools and met over 1100 students. They have participated in the report cases through unique Facebook groups and were able to contribute questions and ideas to the interviews.
Harvest time. During the trip, Martin Schibbye has met many farmers outside the major cities.
Q: Did you know anything new about Dawit?
Martin Schibbye: - I interviewed Eritrea's Justice Minister Fozia Hashim who claimed that Dawit will have a trial. But she also meant that Sweden should focus on getting Ethiopia to comply with international law and withdrawing from the territories they occupy in Eritrea - as well as lifting UN sanctions against the country. The country's information minister said that you do not see Dawit Isaak's case divorced from the others arrested in 2001 and that Sweden does not feel entitled to request him because he committed the so-called crime as an Eritrean citizen. It felt like a decline. Then much of the discussions with ministers were discussed that the Security Council decided to extend the sanctions against Eritrea with the votes 11-4, where Sweden also voted for further penalties, despite the fact that no evidence was found that the country would support Al-Shabab.
Q: Have you been supervised?
Martin Schibbye: "I've moved freely without the monitors in the city and in the countryside. Even though I did not travel to the military college and other places. Then you have to add that my freedom is not everyone's freedom.
MINING. One of the visits during the trip was at the rewritten Bisha mine that produces copper, but also in a Canadian legal process where former workers accuse the company of slave labor.
Q: Difference to previous trips?
Martin Schibbye: - People's freedom. It was as if the surface tension of fear that lay over the country was previously gone. Many I encountered criticized deficiencies in society and management - but not the country as such. Most are very patriotic.
Q: What are you going to do now?
Martin Schibbye: - Melt the impression that now having the Internet for the first time in a good while is like filling the lungs with air. I will write so that the keyboard glows. I have a lot to tell.
Read the first reports from the trip:
Eritrea Justice Minister: "Dawit Isaak's case shall be settled in court"
Eritrea's information minister: "A Swedish citizenry does not give any special privileges."