Why Eritrea needs a little red marker

The Foreign Office have been doing a lot of work recently trying to communicate the human rights work that they are involved in.  There’s an interactive map of the world embedded into their website, with small red markers indicating human right- related activities occurring across the world.

As someone interested in Eritrea I zoomed in to find it, a thin sliver of land nestled between the Sudan , Ethiopia and the Red Sea.

No little red marker.

Soldier in Eritrea

There are little red markers on New Zealand, Germany, and Sweden.  (In fact, there’s 18 dotted around Europe.)  There are none in North Africa, and 2 in East Africa.

I think Eritrea deserves a little red marker on the FCO’s interactive map.  After all, the Mo Ibrahim Index ranks Eritrea as the worst country in the world for human rights.


How do you get a lower rating than Somalia?

Well, you start by conscripting a large proportion of the population into indefinite national service under the premise of an ongoing border dispute with Ethiopia.

You then indefinitely imprison, without trial, certain religious groups, all opposition politicians, and all journalists.  (The latter wins you the lowest ranking on the press freedom index published by Reporters Sans Frontieres.)  Many of them have now been in prison for 9 years, and are held in metal shipping containers buried underground.

Of course, you don’t worry too much about economic development.  (In 2009, the IMF, hunting around for something, anything, positive to report, highlighted the opening of a cement factory as an indicator of potential growth.)  As a result the country is exceedingly poor and can barely feed itself: 2 in every 3 Eritreans are malnourished.  This is a statistic only surpassed by the DRC – a country which has been a warzone since 1998.

Finally, after all this hard work, Human Rights Watch describes you as running the World’s largest prison.

‘You’ are President Isaias, and on the way, you’ve destroyed a beautiful country, with a delightful culture, and an extraordinary history.

President Isaias

And that’s why Eritrea deserves a little red marker on the FCO’s map.

(If you want to learn more about our campaigning activity, go to www.visiteritrea.org/blog )

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3 Responses to Why Eritrea needs a little red marker

  1. Nick Denys (aka Betapolitics) says:

    Interesting stuff Will. I have to admit that I do not know much about Eritrea – apart from it has a disputed border with Ethiopia – as the country gets far less coverage than Somalia, Ethiopia or Zimbabwe. What do you propose we – the UK – should do to help improve matters over there?

  2. Musa says:

    Its very easy Nick. Tell your governments US and UK to stop meddling in our nation, stop funding Ethiopia foreign “aid” for its military, and mandate that Ethiopia signs the Algiers treaty so we can get our land back. It’s that easy. Once we see that, the people can decide what to do with the government, since war will no longer be looming over their heads. Oh yeah; tell the US to get rid of the sanctions. There is no support for al Shabab, or the US would have justified an invasion. As I said, no more modern day colonialism. Then there will be peace, and we can get a new government and move on.

  3. [...] may remember one of the VE Team’s guest post on the Platform 10 website.  He complained that there is no red marker for Eritrea on the FCO [...]

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