Home | News    Thursday 3 February 2005

Asmara angrily dismisses HRW’s assessment of Eritrea as ’nonsense’

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NAIROBI, Feb 2 (AFP) — A recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that described Eritrea as a "highly repressive state" drew an angry dismissal on Wednesday from Asmara, which described the assessment for 2004 as "mere nonsense."

In its World Report, the New York-based HRW said Eritrea remains a "highly repressive state" in which dissent is repressed and most forms of civic, social and religious life is squelched unless expressly sanctioned by the government.

But the Eritrean information ministry in a statement dismissed the report as "mere nonsense". Its authors "browse through the internet only to eventually ’cut and paste’ data from here and there and presented it as ’annual report’".

It is the Asmara’s government’s priority to create a society, "where the basic human rights of every individual are honoured and all are entitled to living in peace and tranquility," said the statement.

"No political party other than the Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) is allowed to exist (...). Those arrested in 2001 and many of those arrested since have been held incommunicado in secret detention sites", according the HRW report.

Eritrea, which officially became independent in 1993, insists that it only arrested "traitors" and "spies," who attempt subversive activities.

Those involved in any "form of sabotage or attempts to tamper with the sovereignty of the state are absolutely intolerable," said the official statement sent to AFP.

HRW, in a similar report released in 2003, described Eritrea as "a country under siege — from its own government."

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