The UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) reported on Wednesday, March 14, that Eritrean authorities have detained hundreds of perceived political opponents this month. Many of the arrests occurred at the funeral for Haji Musa Mohamednur, the director of a private Islamic school in Asmara and a respected leader who recently died in police custody. Mohamednur was arrested in October 2017 for defying government orders to stop religious teachings. UN authorities believe the indiscriminate mass arrests are an effort to quell any kind of protest or resistance. Most of those arrested were male, with some as young as 13 years old. As of Friday, March 16, the Eritrean government had not commented on the arrests.
The Eritrean government places severe limitations on free speech and the right to assembly, and has been criticized by various international bodies in the past for alleged human rights violations. Demonstrations are rare in the country.
In October 2017, more than 100 people were arrested in Asmara’s Akriya neighborhood during a protest against the recent government restrictions placed on the curriculum at Al Diaa private secondary school. Reports indicate that while some people have been released, an unknown number remain in custody.
Individuals in Eritrea are advised to monitor the situation, avoid talking about sensitive political subjects in public, and avoid all protests and demonstrations.
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