Rival groups of Eritreans spark riots in the Netherlands

Two officers had hand injuries, one had dental injuries, and one was hit by a police car in the midst of the turmoil.

A violent clash between two rival groups of Eritreans in The Hague injured four Dutch police officers on Saturday night. The rioters set fire to vehicles, threw rocks and other objects, and damaged a conference center where a New Year’s party for Eritrean government supporters was held, as reported by Dutch media.

Some Eritrean government critics also showed up at the party and sparked the conflict with the pro-government group. The police intervened with water cannons and tear gas to stop the brawl, but they were also attacked by the rioters. Two officers had hand injuries, one had dental injuries, and one was hit by a police car in the midst of the turmoil.

Eritrea is a one-party state ruled by President Isaías Afewereki since 1991, when it gained independence from Ethiopia. He has repeatedly delayed holding elections in the country.

The UN human rights expert on Eritrea, Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, said last June that President Afewerki has “absolute power” that does not allow for the rule of law, the judicial independence or the separation of powers.

He also denounced the crackdown on any dissent and urged the government to free all those who are “unlawfully and arbitrarily” detained.

Eritrea was ranked second in the world for modern slavery by the Global Slavery Index last year, only behind North Korea.

This situation has driven many Eritreans to flee the country. More than 577,000 of them had sought asylum abroad by the end of 2022, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

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