People who fled the Horn of Africa nation say the violence against festivals in GermanySweden and Canada are protests against a repressive government that’s been described as the “North Korea of Africa.” Some allege that proceeds from festivals might support the government.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Eritrea over the years, many setting off into the deserts of Sudan and then North Africa in attempts to reach Europe.

President Isaias Afwerki, 77, has led Eritrea since it won independence from Ethiopia in a long guerrilla war. There have been no elections. There’s no free press. Exit visas are required. Many young people are forced into military service with no end date, human rights groups and United Nations experts say.