Eritrean authorities have made arrests following Tuesday’s rare protest in the capital, Asmara. The BBC Tigrinya service said the military carried out overnight swoops where an undisclosed number of people were rounded up.
Security forces fired gunshots to disperse protesting students who were resisting government involvement in affairs of their school reports say.
The Diae Al Islam school is a community-funded institution whose leadership, parents and students have all kicked against attempts to regulate the school.
The Tuesday protests were said to be linked to the arrerst of the school chairman, 90-year-old Hajj Musa Mohammed Nur, the BBC added.
Eritrea’s information minister on Tuesday described the incident as a “small demonstration by one school in Asmara dispersed without any casualty hardly breaking news.” He was responding to one of the earliest persons to tweet about the incident, Martin Plaut.
Plaut is a pathological liar par excellence.Small demonstration by one school in Asmara dispersed without any casuality hardly breaking news
— Yemane G. Meskel (@hawelti) October 31, 2017
The country which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 does not have a known constitution and is believed to be run with a stiff hand by its only known political leader, Isaias Afwerki.
Eritrea’s human rights record is very poor with reports of detention without trial, abuse of prisoners and people being held without recourse to legal proceedings. Its media freedom situation is no better as there are no independent media outlets in the country.
On late Tuesday, however, the United States embassy in Asmara issued a security message to its citizens in respect of the protests and gunfire.
The U.S. Embassy has received reports of gunfire at several locations in Asmara due to protests. The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid the downtown area where protests appear to be more prevalent.
Streets in the downtown area may be closed, and police continue to maintain a significant presence, the statement read in part.