Eritrea abandons “Shoot-to-kill” border policy

A top official of the Eritrean youth Union claims that the Eritrean government is no longer pursuing its shoot-to-kill policy on civilians trying to flee the nation.

In a tweet exchange with Mr Paul Dillane, a Refugee Specialist and former Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International, Ms Rahel Weldeab, an official of the government run youth Union, claimed that Eritrean army no longer has a standing order to shoot and kill citizens trying to flee.

Rahel reasons that the Jihadists and border conflict with Ethiopia are to be blamed for the governments shoot-to-kill border policy; probably insinuating that the shoot-to-kill order was not put in place as a means to discourage refugees from fleeing (life being a good incentive to stay). In that case the fact that the policy did discourage ‘illegal’ border crossing was just an unintended effect.

The fact that an Eritrean government official admitted there ever was a “shoot to kill” policy led many to focus less on Rahel’s justification why the government was ‘forced’ to implement that policy.

Eritrean borders “Hot” for illegal border crossing

Rahel promptly re-stated her statement with a more politically correct wording for “shoot-to-kill”,

11 plus a few others

Rahel also admitted that there were political prisoners but that the number claimed by Amnesty International (over 10,000 prisoners of conscience) was inflated,

And that some of the prisoners were even charged with a crime,

Bealfan T, a former editorial staff of the Eritrea’s only newspaper run by government, now an asylee in the US reply Rahel and tweets,

The conversation was getting # ‘boring’ for Rahel,

His phone battery running low and probably having sacrificed his lunch break, Paul Dillane ends the conversation thanking Rahel for her honesty.

The {Real} Rahel

Rahel Weldeab, is the Head of Foreign Affairs at the youth arm of the Eritrean government, the “National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS)”. Rahel also holds at least three other full-time positions in the same organization including being Vice-President of the Pan African Youth Union (PYU) for the East Africa/Indian Ocean Region. But her popularity  among Eritrean diaspora groups soared when she appeared (via telephone) on Al Jazeera’s The Stream program on August 2011 and defended the government in a way that infuriated many Eritreans abroad. Responding to a question from the program host, Derrick Ashong, “Why are people trying to escape?” Rahel explained the reason for the exodus of Eritrean youth is “economic reasons” and expounded that saying:the_stream

“…You know the Eritrean youth are not alienated from the effects of globalization. We all like our iPads and iPods and Air Jordan’s …we like our movies as well. The youth do look towards the West and like what they see in the movies.”

Carefully avoiding words with negative connotation to the government like “refugee”, and instead preferring the more descriptive “deciding to go towards the West”, She emphasized the need not to give any special attention to the issue of Eritreans fleeing their country:

“I don’t think when we talk about youth deciding to go towards the West we shouldn’t see it as a new phenomenon or a phenomenon that is only taking place in Eritrea.”

Alek Wek is raising awareness for refugees and returnees in her home country, South Sudan.

Alek Wek is raising awareness for refugees and returnees in her home country, South Sudan.

Alek Wek a South Sudanese British model and philanthropist who was a guest at the program, described Rahel as “trying to sweep the problem under the rug” And expressed strong disapproval:

“…its quite insulting to say that’s why they’ve left. I think there is a fundamental reason why you go

and seek refuge, having been a refugee myself. You can’t say that you want to come out

from your own country. I mean people were like halleluiah when the country got independence. I think it is insensitive…”

Two days after the interview, Rahel started her personal blog TheRealRahel (perhaps inspired by Alek Wek’s similar twitter name). In her first blog, Rahel explains that this interview/debate: “has inspired me to start up this blog to talk about the real issues and why real revolution will not be twitted.”

Well it might be true one can’t tweet a real revolution into existence, but unless you are careful you certainly can twitter yourself into one of Eritrea’s many labor camps.


Minor language edits: June 25 2013

12 thoughts on “Eritrea abandons “Shoot-to-kill” border policy

  1. Pingback: «Disparar a matar» en Eritrea | Matatu a África

  2. Rahel is a poor PFDJ youth who know nothing about Eritrea. She lives just in a day dream. I would like to say you have to live in reality not just in others manipulation. The Government will pass away for sure, sooner or later, because no one regime is everlasting but the [people will last…]. Please Eritreans be the side of our people and keep fighting and safe our people from the bandit regime.


  3. This has got to be the worst attempt at manipulating someone’s words to fit your own twisted political ideology, Martin. As a so-called journalist, you should be ashamed of yourself. It’s quite evident that the policy she’s stated is in regard to national security concerns as it relates to Jihadist groups and armed excursions by Ethiopia who operate near the border. Please stop reaching. Its insulting on your part.


  4. Those who want to manipulate my words will do so, but the English is clear and I didn’t state what you are purporting I did. Taking such a sensationalist stance to blog about tweets that have been deliberately misinterpreted by the so-called lawyer Paul Dillane is lame.

    I was intriguing to find out that Alek Wek’s twitter name is TheRealAlekWek. I never knew that and I definitely wasn’t inspired to call my blog The Real Rahel after her twitter name. I had to find out when she started using Twitter. Lo and behold, she started 3 months AFTER I started my blog. So maybe she was inspired by my blog and decided to use a similar twitter name? Who knows! 🙂


    • Rahel, I suppose it is asking much if we implore you to stop insulting people’s intelligence. The keyword in your obviously unintended revelation is “anymore”. It obviously indicates the stopping of a practice that was once prevalent. You are stumbling all over yourself to take back what you said and now it is just plain comical.

      You and your family were deported out of the US so your acrimonious swipes at the place you once called home comes more from a place of hurt rather than logic. You now live in a glass house..don’t throw stones.


      • A practice and a policy are 2 different things, and I never said the government had a shoot to kill practice on its own people. Though the borders are still tense, there hasn’t been any shootings from the Eritrean side in a while, except in the cases where Ethiopia did attack Eritrea around and after March 2012. Knowing all of this very well, that Ethiopia still occupies Eritrean sovereign territory, I think it is quite ingenuous for people to act as if Eritrea shouldn’t protect its own borders.

        Despite how much people want to paint Eritrea in a bad picture,all the adhominen comments and threats I receive are from those who don’t live in Eritrea. In Eritrea, nobody pretends to assume the truth about my life, and they don’t hid under an alias or fake name. You call yourself ‘haqi nfto’ yet you can’t even show your true identity? Please… tell me again… who lives in a glass house?


  5. People like Rahel who grew up out side the country have a common misguided view toward the Eritrea’s current problem.Some of the errors are done deliberately just to twist the fact for cheap personal gain like what Rahel is enjoying in NUEYS w/c is now in a severe drought of a committed cadre who r a pathological liers .I never saw Rahel or heard about her when i was in side the Eritrea.But i used to know some of her colleagues who like Rahel grew up in the west .On their first approach they will always try to appear as Pro- Govt .however after few hours of conversation they all turned on the Govt just like what Rahel has done.
    Few more words to RAHEL..if u r reading this comment, please(10+) do not mess with PFDJ.In the political society like PFDJ committing one mistake can ruin all the million good works one did in his life time.Obviously Now u have uttered the unutterable .And 4 sure sooner or latter u will pay for it in excess .Stay safe.
    Thank u Sam hawey for bring this for a wider readers.


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