Over 300 Eritreans protested outside Downing Street in London last Saturday calling for an end to repression in Eritrea and the right to practise whichever religion they want. They also called for an end to the regime of the current president, Isaias Afwerki.
It follows the release of YouTube footage showing young people, many of whom were Muslim, protesting on the street and then running from soldiers shooting at them, in the capital Asmara.
While the footage was horrific, for Eritreans living in Britain it renewed a sense of hope because they could see people resisting in the streets.
Two weeks ago the government moved against Al Diaa Islamic School in the capital, where 3,000 students attend. After the community resisted, scores of people, including a respected elder and honorary president of the school, Hajji Musa, were arrested while attending a funeral.
The chants on Saturday demanded the release of the political prisoners, the famous “the people want the fall of the regime” made famous by the Arab Spring was repeated there too. As the Palestine demonstration passed on its way to Parliament Square it was greeted with “Ahlan, Ahlan Filastine” (Hello, Hello Palestine).
I was given a chance to speak at the demonstration, and when I spoke of the Convoy to Calais coming up on 9 December, I saw a lot of faces nodding in agreement.
The argument can be made and won, that solidarity with those resisting in Asmara means resisting the enemy here as well. It is the Tory government, backed by the European Union, which has turned its back on Eritreans and all refugees.
A further demonstration was planned again in London for this Friday (10 November) at the Eritrean Embassy in Angel at 12 noon.
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