(Asmara 15/01/2015) Freedom Friday Activists (Arbi Harnet) report that local administrative authorities in Asmara have started taking punitive measures against families of people who are defying repeated calls for military training as part of the popular army for people over the age of national service recruitment age.
Yesterday, houses in many areas in the city were raided at night and where the person in question wasn’t found security officers took the coupons issued to each family for use in buying basic grocery items from the government subsidised shops. These shops are often the only places where essential provisions like oil, grain and sugar are available.
The reports indicate that the numbers going as a result of these measures are only a handful, as opposed to the hundreds that were originally listed by each administrative area. A few people have also resorted to leaving the country rather than risk getting caught in a raid. But by far the majority of the people are said to still be defying the calls despite the punitive measures and threats of more to come.
Activists noted the resolute stand taken by some areas where officials weren’t even able to get a single person to go for training ‘in Adi GuaEdad no one has volunteered or been forced to go, authorities are really frustrated there and know that the defiance will not be broken easily, in more affluent areas where people are not that affected by the confiscation of their coupons people are choosing to leave the country instead, we know of several families where the men called have gone to Juba in South Sudan and are hiding there . It is the poorer families who rely on buying food from government owned shops that will suffer as a result of these latest tactics; we hope they will remain strong. We are encouraging them to stay strong’