Eritrean Canadians Protest Eritrean consulate fundraising event
By Aaron Berhane
The Eritrean Human Rights Group staged a popular demonstration against an Eritrean consulate-sponsored fundraising event at Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto on August 5.
The protesters disclosed the hidden agenda of the so-called “community” event by chanting such slogans as: “No Fundraising to finance terrorists”; “No fundraising to finance the dictator”; “Stop soliciting our churches; “Stop the 2% extortion tax; “Shame on Sheraton Hotel for hosting a terrorist fundraising event”; and “Close the Eritrean consulate”.
The Eritrean human rights activists attracted the attention of many pedestrians. They distributed literature that disclosed the dictatorial nature of the Eritrean regime, and increased awareness the illegal activities of the Eritrean Consulate in raising funds and extorting Eritrean Canadians to pay the notorious 2% tax.
The protest conveyed a strong message and drew the attention of the hotel guests. One of the guests arrived by taxi and saw the protesters and read the picket signs. He happened to be familiar with the Afewerki regime, and said, “‘I am going to cancel my reservation right now and book in another hotel as a support to your cause”. There were also several taxis that stopped with their guests at the gate and left the premise instantly when they saw the protesters.
The Eritrean consulate in Toronto rented a hall at Sheraton Hotel in the name of two agents of the consulate who work in the hotel. They hid their politically motivated event to raise funds for the military activities of the Eritrean dictator and to finance terrorist groups in the horn of Africa.
The Eritrean consulate has been extorting Eritrean-Canadian citizens, community centers and churches to collect money in violation Canadian and International laws for many years.
The illegal action of the consulate has been verified by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, which reports, “Eritrean officials and party agents routinely resort to threats, intimidation and coercive measures in order to elicit payment.” The report adds, “The most common tactic is the denial of unrelated services until taxes have been paid. Other measures include harassment, intimidation and the threat of retribution in Eritrea: individuals who refuse to make payment may have their inheritance rights voided; their family members may be penalized; and they may be subject to detention or denial of an exit visa if they return to Eritrea.”
The consulate also conceals its political nature in order to obtain financial assistance from the Canadian government. The UN report said “A PFDJ [the People's Front for Democracy and Justice, the ruling party in Eritrea] fundraising drive in Canada in early 2012 falsely presented itself as a campaign to assist Eritrean orphans and children, in potential violation of Canadian law.” An investigation by the RCMP revealed that the money raised in the name of ‘orphans’ was handed to Eritrean government agents.
The fundraising event of the Eritrean consulate at the Sheraton Hotel has again violated Canadian law as the funds raised will be handed to the Eritrean consulate in Toronto, and ultimately invested in the military activities of the regime and in abusing the Eritrean people.