Category: English

Clashes at Toronto Eritrean festival send 9 to hospital, shut local roads

Toronto Police hold back a line of protestors in Earlscourt Park in Toronto, on Saturday, August 5 2023.Violence erupted at a festival for Toronto's Eritrean community on Saturday as participants clashed with demonstrators in exchanges that sent at least nine people to hospital.Eight people have non-life-threatening injuries while one person has serious injuries after being stabbed, police said in a tweet. Police did not say how the eight people were injured.

City police ultimately deployed the riot squad to Earlscourt Park in the city's west end, where Festival Eritrea descended into chaos almost from the start. Skirmishes first broke out at around 10 a.m. and tensions continued throughout the day.

Protesters, Eritrean themselves, said they showed up to demonstrate against the festival, which they said supports the government of Eritrea.

But Yordanos Tesfamariam, Eritrea Festival organizer, disputed that claim.

"It's a lie, it's a fabricated lie," Tesfamariam told CBC News.

Category: English

Scores injured after protesters against Eritrea’s government attack cultural festival in Sweden

Police stand near the gutted remains of cars, at the Eritrean cultural festival "Eritrea Scandinavia" in Stockholm Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. A violent clash at an Eritrea-themed culture festival in Sweden has caused a chaos as about a thousand anti-Eritrean government protesters stormed the outdoor festival venue throwing stones, setting fire on booths and tearing down tents. (Magnus Lejhall/TT News Agency via AP)STOCKHOLM (AP) — An Eritrea-themed cultural festival in a Stockholm suburb took a violent turn on Thursday when about a thousand anti-Eritrean government protesters stormed the event, leaving at least 52 people injured, Swedish media reported.

The protesters set booths and vehicles ablaze, sending smoke billowing into the sky. Swedish newspaper Expressen reported that up to a thousand protesters marched towards the festival grounds, pushing past police cordons and using sticks and rocks as weapons.

Swedish police spokesperson Daniel Wikdahl told The Associated Press that “between 100 and 200 people have been detained.” A significant police presence is still at the scene and investigations are underway, he said.

Sweden is home to tens of thousands of people with Eritrean roots. The festival devoted to the cultural heritage of Eritrea is an annual event that has been held since the 1990s but has been criticized for allegedly serving as a promotional tool and source of money for the African nation’s government, according to Swedish media.

“This is not a festival, they are teaching their children hate speech,” protester Michael Kobrab told Swedish broadcaster TV4.


Human rights groups describe Eritrea as one of the world’s most repressive countries. Since winning independence from Ethiopia three decades ago, the small Horn of Africa nation has been led by President Isaias Afwerki, who has never held an election.

Millions of people have fled conditions such as forced military conscription.

A festival participant, Emanuel Asmalash, also spoke to TV4 and accused the protesters of being “terrorists” from Ethiopia.

“It is not reasonable for Sweden to be drawn into other countries’ domestic conflicts in this way,” Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer said in a written statement to the Swedish news agency TT.

“If you flee to Sweden to escape violence, or are on a temporary visit, you must not cause violence here,” he added. “The police’s resources are needed for other purposes than keeping different groups apart from each other.”

Category: English

Biniam Girmay and 3 Eritrean teammates denied visa to the road worlds

17-05-2022 Giro D'italia; Tappa 10 Pescara - Jesi; 2022, Intermarche - Wanty Gobert; Gyrmai Hailu, Biniam; Jesi;Eritrean sprinter Biniam Girmay has pulled out of the cycling world championships in Scotland, with conflicting reports as to the reason. His team initially claimed it was due to injury, shortly after news emerged that he and three of his teammates had been refused visas for entry into the UK.

Girmay considered one of favorites for rainbow jersey

Girmay, 23, made history last year by becoming the first Black African to claim a stage victory at the Giro d’Italia, and was considered as a potential contender to become Africa’s first world champion in the men’s road race on Sunday. His team, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty, issued a statement on Wednesday morning explaining that he wouldn’t be able to compete following a crash he suffered during the San Sebastian event over the past weekend.

“I’m of course very disappointed to withdraw from the selection for the world championships, which were a main goal for this season since last winter,” Girmay said. “I had a good feeling after the Tour de France, but my crash in the Clasica San Sebastian caused too severe pain to be able to defend my chances in the worlds.”

Visas rejected for four riders

The announcement was made after GCN reported that Girmay and his teammates Natnael Tesfatsion, Merhawi Kudus, and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier had all encountered visa rejections.

 Kudus retweeted the GCN article and commented “It’s truly unfortunate!” while tagging the UCI.

According to report in the Scottish outlet, The National, the advocacy group Africa Rising Cycling posted about it on Twitter. “To confirm, we have just spoken with one of the riders affected, and the story is true,” the tweet read. “All four (currently) do not have visas to race on Sunday. Let’s hope UK gov sees sense. These are all professional, top level athletes.”

The organization then added, “Shame on the UK for denying these professional top level athletes access to the very top stage of our sport.”