The Eritrean embassy office in The Hague uses coercion to raise money among Eritreans in the Netherlands. They were asked to donate at least 100 euros in connection with the Corona crisis.
Source: NU [Articles computer translated from Dutch]
Minister Blok requests clarification from Eritrea about controversial fundraising
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, demanded clarification from Eritrea on Saturday about fundraising by the embassy office of the country, a minister told the ANP news agency after reports on the Argos radio program.
According to Argos , the Eritrean embassy office in The Hague uses coercion to raise money among Eritreans in the Netherlands. They were asked to donate at least 100 euros in connection with the Corona crisis.
Eritrea has been asking for money from fellow countrymen living abroad for years. It concerns the so-called diaspora tax. This tax cannot be banned, but according to the United Nations (UN), the tax is often done with intimidation and coercion. Action can be taken if Eritreans report that they have been pressured to pay.
Blok calls it “very worrying” that there are again reports of the forced collection of money by Eritrean diplomats. The minister requires an explanation from the embassy office. He also says he cannot rule out further actions.
Highest diplomatic representative was previously expelled
In 2018, former Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra demanded that Eritrea’s senior diplomatic representative, Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy, leave the Netherlands, as the embassy continued to forcibly collect money from the diaspora. He was declared persona non grata. The House of Representatives also demanded that the embassy office be closed, but the cabinet did not agree to this at the time.
Minister Blok calls on victims of the fundraising to file a report, so that the Public Prosecution Service (OM) can investigate the case.
‘Regime Eritrea again raised money from Eritreans in the Netherlands’
Eritrea diplomats have again collected money from fellow countrymen in the Netherlands. This was preceded by a call from the Eritrean embassy, which asked in the spring to contribute a minimum of 100 euros to the fight against the corona virus in Eritrea, VPRO radio program Argos reports .
Members of the Eritrean community in the Netherlands said that representatives of the country also went through the doors to collect money. Those who paid stated that they had been pressured, including with the threat that the family in Eritrea would not receive food coupons if they did not pay.
From a list of payments which Argos got hold , it was apparent collected at least 155,000 euros. Some come from supporters of the military regime, or organizations affiliated with the regime, but the list also includes people who have fled that regime. It concerns hundreds of status holders, but also people who still live in an asylum seekers’ center.
The action is remarkable: two years ago, the highest Eritrean diplomat, the Netherlands, was expelled because the regime forced former countrymen in the Netherlands to hand over taxes to Eritrea. Intimidation was not shunned, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Zijlstra wrote to the Lower House.
MPs want the cabinet to take measures. Minister Blok informed Argos that he will ask the Eritrean embassy for clarification. He also calls on people who are victims to report the crime. “If there are well-founded suspicions of criminal offenses, the Public Prosecution Service will investigate.”
The Argos episode can be heard this afternoon on NPO Radio 1 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m
Source: NRC NL
‘Embassy office Eritrea forces donations from asylum seekers’
Diplomats from the Eritrean embassy office in the Netherlands are involved in raising money from members of the Eritrean community in the Netherlands, including asylum seekers. This is shown by research by the radio program Argos . People who paid would have been pressured to do so.
In April, the office – Eritrea does not have a full-fledged embassy in the Netherlands – started a fundraising campaign with “a minimum contribution of 100 euros” for the “fight against corona”. During the lockdown, embassy personnel passed the houses of Eritreans in the Netherlands. Consul Solomon Mehari was also involved in the action.
It was implicitly stated that failure to pay would have major consequences. According to Argos, there are known cases in which Eritreans are refused consular services or family members in Eritrea have more difficult access to scarce goods such as sugar and oil when their relatives in the Netherlands do not pay. According to a list of payments that Argos saw, at least 155,000 euros was collected from the collections. The list also includes persons who have just fled the Eritrean regime and are still living in an asylum seekers’ center.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is going to ask the embassy office for clarification. In 2018, the highest diplomat of Eritrea Netherlands was expelled for levying a so-called diaspora tax, whereby Eritreans in the Netherlands had to pay 2 percent of their income to the repressive regime in Africa. That too would have happened then under pressure.