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Eritrean Festival in Sweden Scandinavia 2022, held in July, was peaceful. Screenshot from YouTube

Cultural festival turns into civil war

Several armed Africans from Eritrea attacked and injured police officers and helpers at a festival planned in the city of Gießen (around 50km north of Frankfurt) over the weekend. This happened just before the start of the Eritrea Festival, which was scheduled to take place at the city's exhibition center on Saturday evening.

Published: August 23, 2022, 10:58 am

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    Critics accuse the event of being a festival for the government in Eritrea, as the news portal T-Online reported.

    Investigations are now being carried out, among other things, on suspicion of bodily harm and breach of the peace, according to a spokeswoman for the central Hesse police headquarters. Witnesses are currently being questioned, evidence collected and witness statements evaluated. The police spokeswoman could not give an exact number of the injured and arrested Eritreans.

    Several videos have been circulating on Twitter, showing the attacks.

    At first, Tigray supporters, around 200 young people, protested in front of the venue. A little later, some of them pushed through the fences and stormed the site. The attackers used iron bars, knives, sticks and stones against festival workers as well as police officers who were present to protect the event. The officers fought back with batons and pepper spray.

    The police were able to break up the riot after a while, temporarily arrest a “large number” of attackers and secure various weapons on site, including knives and iron bars. Rescue workers who were summoned, arrived a little later to provide medical care to the injured.

    The Eritrea Festival was canceled by police order. Even in the run-up to the event, there were discussions about the authority to interpret the event. Exiled Eritreans who are in opposition to the government in the African country had tried in vain to have the cultural festival banned by a court in advance. Their main point of criticism was that the military leadership in north-eastern Africa was using the festival to collect donations in Germany.

    In November 2020, a political falling-out between the Tigray forces who long dominated the national government, and the current administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed erupted in fighting.

    “The Horn of Africa is gearing up to become one of the most pivotal regions of US-China strategic competition, and will become a primary focus of Washington’s bid to try and undercut China’s influence on the continent. Why? Because the region is a strategic junction and frontier in what the US has described as the ‘Indo-Pacific,’ the area spanning the Indian and Pacific Oceans, which the US seeks to dominate economically, politically and militarily in order to contain Beijing,” said British analyst on East Asia, Tom Fowdy.

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