African rivalries played out in Europe as at least 50 people were injured and more than 100 detained in the Swedish capital Stockholm after a clash broke out between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean government.
“A violent riot broke out,” police said as around 1,000 protestors held demonstrations near the site where an Eritrean festival was being celebrated. The violent mob broke through a police barrier, tore down tents and set vehicles on fire.
Police said they were “continuing their efforts to disrupt criminal acts and restore order”.
A police source was quoted by the Guardian as saying that around 100 to 200 people were detained.
Around 52 people required medical attention, and they were being treated in nearby hospitals, police informed.
Eight of the people had “serious injuries”, with the other seven sustaining “minor injuries”, according to the Region Stockholm healthcare authority.
Why were demonstrations held?
Sweden hosts thousands of people of Eritrean background. They have been celebrating an annual festival in Sweden since the 1990s dedicated to the cultural heritage of Eritrea.
However, opponents of the Eritrean regime claim the event serves as a promotional tool and source of funding for the African nation under the guise of promoting culture.
Anti-Eritrea govt protester Michael Kobrab said, “This is not a festival, they are teaching their children hate speech,” as quoted by Swedish broadcaster TV4.
On the other hand, a pro-govt festival participant said that those who were causing violence were actually “terrorists” from Ethiopia.
Swedish govt issues statement
The Swedish justice minister, Gunnar Strömmer, said in a statement that it was not justified for Sweden to be drawn into violent conflicts of other nations.
“If you flee to Sweden to escape violence, or are on a temporary visit, you must not cause violence here. The police’s resources are needed for other purposes than keeping different groups apart from each other,” he warned.
Eritrea is widely labelled by human rights organisations as among the most oppressive nations globally. After gaining independence from Ethiopia over 30 years ago, the country in the Horn of Africa has been under the leadership of President Isaias Afwerki, who has not overseen any elections during his rule.
This, along with rules like compulsory military conscription, has pushed thousands of individuals from the country to seek refuge in other parts of the world.
Source : Wion