EPAA firefighter on the battered festival grounds near Stockholm
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 21:16
Visitors and demonstrators clashed at an Eritrean cultural festival near Stockholm. According to the German news agency DPA, more than fifty people were injured, eight of whom were seriously injured.
The festival has been held in the outskirts of the capital for years. The organizers are said to have been criticized in the past for inviting supporters of Eritrea’s dictatorial government. This year, anti-government protesters had been allowed to protest near the festival grounds.
Armed with sticks
According to Swedish media, about a thousand demonstrators managed to reach the festival during the afternoon. There they would have thrown stones at visitors and police officers and pulled over tents. Witnesses saw men armed with sticks. Cars are also said to have been destroyed and fires started on the site.
Some of the visitors fled in panic towards a nearby highway. Local authorities were forced to close part of the highway to traffic. The police have arrested about a hundred people on and around the festival site.
Violent clashes are more common in Europe between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean regime, which has been led by dictator Isaias Afewerki for decades. At the end of May, several people were injured in a stabbing in the Netherlands prior to an Eritrean party in Rijswijk. Last month, riots broke out at an Eritrea festival in Germany.
It has been known for some time that the Eritrean dictatorial regime exerts pressure on the diaspora from the Eastern European country. In the Netherlands, Eritreans are forced to hand over money, research by Argos revealed a few years ago.