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A major demonstration by the Central Council of Eritreans took place in Berlin

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Friday, 20 October 2023

Large demonstration by the Central Council of Eritreans in Berlin

Fri 10/20/23 | 4:40 p.m

Eritrea demonstration in Berlin : “Stop! Violence against police!”

There have been massive riots again and again at Eritrean events in Germany. A demonstration is now calling against violence at Eritrean festivals.

Oct 20, 2023 | 5:18 p.m
Most recently there were riots in Stuttgart at an event organized by the Central Council of Eritreans.
Most recently there were riots in Stuttgart at an event organized by the Central Council of Eritreans.Volkmar Otto

Colorful flags fly at Potsdamer Platz on Friday morning. They are not the colorful flags of Palestine that you can currently see everywhere on Berlin's streets . In a crowd of around 800 people, between signs and German flags, three colors are particularly noticeable: red, green and blue. They are the colors of the Eritrean flag. The country in East Africa also has a larger community in Germany. This German-Eritrean community has repeatedly made the headlines in recent months because of violent riots at their festivals. That's exactly why people are on the streets in Berlin. The crowd is demanding: No violence at Eritrean festivals and events!

The political situation in Eritrea is assessed differently by Eritreans in Germany. In the past, this conflict has repeatedly erupted at Eritrean festivals in Germany. Some of the Eritreans living in Germany support the government, which is considered authoritarian. There have been no elections since the election of Prime Minister Isayas Afewerki in 1993. Eritrean opposition supporters in Eritrea, but also in Germany, criticized this situation. In the past, critics have repeatedly appeared violently at Eritrean festivals in Germany. Only in September there was tumult at an event in Stuttgart . 31 emergency services were injured.

The demonstrators on Friday morning in Berlin reject violence at their cultural festivals - at least that's what they keep chanting: "No to hatred and agitation!" and "Violent criminals behind bars!" At first, the crowd behind the scaffolding of the Christmas market on Potsdamer Platz barely drops on. As the morning progresses, more and more people join the demonstration, so it quickly becomes impossible to miss. The demonstrators come from all over Germany and some have traveled specifically for the event. Signs from Eritrean clubs and organizations from Hamburg, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe and Pforzheim, but also Berlin, stand out. In the past there were riots at an Eritrean festival not only in Stuttgart, but also in Giessen .

A group of demonstrators traveled from Stuttgart. They wrap themselves in an Eritrean flag and protect themselves from the cold wind. Despite the almost freezing temperatures, they are here for a serious cause. A demonstrator says: “The violence at our festivals is disturbing.” Some families from Eritrea have been living in Germany for the third generation. He has no understanding for the escalations at Eritrean festivals. Some of the perpetrators of violence are opposition supporters, but some are also Ethiopians posing as Eritreans, he says. There have been repeated armed conflicts between the two bordering countries in the past.

We are trying to build schools there.

A demonstrator at the demo on October 20th, 2023

Crafted signs with slogans against demo violence

Another demonstrator distributes flyers on the sidelines of the demo. Although she did not grow up in Eritrea and never experienced the war there, she knows the situation there very well through her family. “We’re trying to build schools there,” she says. She describes the political situation in Eritrea as peaceful overall, but she would prefer to stay away from political disputes. Today it is primarily important to her to draw attention to the aim of the demonstration: no violence at Eritrean events.

After a good hour the demonstration sets off towards Leipziger Straße . The morning's protests remained completely peaceful. The slogans on the made signs are also directed against violence during demonstrations: “Stop! Set cars on fire,” “Stop! Violence against police”, “Violence is unacceptable”. Demonstrations like this have rarely been seen in Berlin.

Großdemo des Zentralrats der Eritreer in Berlin

20/23 | 4:40 p.m
Participants in the demonstration organized by the Central Council of Eritreans in Germany march through Berlin with flags and signs © dpa/Monika Skolimowska
Participants in the demonstration organized by the Central Council of Eritreans in Germany march through Berlin with flags and signs © dpa/Monika SkolimowskaDownload (mp3, 7 MB)

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