Eritrea is characterised by regime paranoia, intense domestic repression and isolationism. Martin Plaut's book offers a glimpse into a relatively young nation marred by a stifling dictatorship.
The most secretive, repressive state in Africa is haemorrhaging its citizens. In some months as many Eritreans as Syrians arrive on European shores, yet the country is not convulsed by civil war. Young men and women risk all to escape. Many do not survive - their bones littering the Sahara; their bodies floating in the Mediterranean. Still they flee, to avoid permanent military service and a future without hope. As the United Nations reported: "Thousands of conscripts are subjected to forced labour that effectively abuses, exploits and enslaves them for years." Eritreans fought for their freedom from Ethiopia for thirty years, only to have their revered leader turn on his own people. Independent since 1993, the country has no constitution and no parliament. No budget has ever been published. Elections have never been held and opponents languish in jail. International organisations find it next to impossible to work in the country. Nor is it just a domestic issue. By supporting armed insurrection in neighbouring states it has destabilised the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is involved in the Yemeni civil war, while the regime backs rebel movements in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti.This book tells the untold story of how this tiny nation became a world pariah.
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