Eritrea: British firms bankrolling a brutal regime

3 May 2017 - 11:15am

In the pursuit of profit British firms are turning a blind eye to human rights abuses and reinforcing a ruthless dictatorship.

The Eritrean people live in fear. Eritrea is one of the most repressive states in the world: no elections since 1993; a crackdown on press freedom; forced labour; arbitrary arrest and detention without trial; indefinite compulsory military conscription; and sexual violence against women and girls.

The list goes on.

Yet these shocking human rights violations mean nothing to big business, whose only purpose is to exploit Eritrea’s wealth of natural resources. Right now in Eritrea, mining companies from around the world are bankrolling a brutal regime and are complicit in its forced labour system, whether through mining taxes paid to the state or investments made in mining construction projects.

Screengrab from War on Want's Up Front magazine Spring/Summer 2017Fighting Oppression 

Four mines are currently under development and over a dozen companies, including British firms, are hunting for the next minerals to plunder. A number of British financial institutions are invested in these companies, including Barclays Stockbrokers Ltd and Halifax Share Dealing.

In a country which does not publish a national budget and where state revenues are unknown, mining companies are providing funding to Eritrea’s totalitarian state. Join War on Want to demand international action to halt corporate complicity in these ongoing human rights abuses.

Fleeing terror: the legacy of war

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, following three decades of war. A further war between the two countries from 1998 to 2000 cost tens of thousands of lives. Since then Eritrea has become one of the most totalitarian states in the world.

The number of Eritreans fleeing repression and seeking refuge in Europe has increased five-fold since 2008. More than 45,000 Eritreans applied for asylum in Europe in 2015. 

Our partner Eritrea Focus, an association of refugee groups, human rights organisations, and non-governmental organisations, is working to draw attention to human rights abuses in Eritrea and to press the international community to work for democratic accountability in Eritrea.

This article first appeared in Fighting Oppression War on Want's Up Front magazine (Spring/Summer 2017) 

Read our briefing - Eritreans Exploited: UK corporate complicity in human rights abuses

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