Contact Us

Dozens injured as riots break out at Eritrean Festival in Stockholm

Published August 04,2023

More than 50 people were injured in Stockholm on Thursday, at least eight of them seriously, as violent riots broke out on the sidelines of an Eritrean cultural festival.

By early evening, the police counted a total of 52 people with injuries of varying degrees of severity.

The Stockholm region spoke of 15 people who had been taken to hospital, including eight seriously injured.

A police spokesman told broadcaster SVT that three police officers were also injured. The police has launched investigations into violent riots, arson and serious sabotaging of the emergency services.

About 1,000 counter-demonstrators had gathered at the site, throwing stones at police officers, Swedish media reported.

Footage from the scene showed fires at the festival site, vehicles set on fire and destroyed, and men armed with sticks.

Eyewitnesses and reporters at the scene spoke of chaotic scenes and fights. According to the police, more than 100 people were arrested.

The festival has long been criticized because of its ties to the Eritrean regime, which is considered repressive.

The festival has been held for years on a meadow in the north of the Swedish capital. According to the police, it is a meeting with seminars, debates, singing competitions and a fair, among other things.

There was another meeting right next to the site, where the riots began. According to the Dagens Nyheter daily, the festival has been criticized in the past for inviting guests who support the political leadership in Eritrea.

Similar riots broke out at a festival three and a half weeks ago in the state of Hesse in Germany.

Opponents of the Eritrea festival there also got into violent clashes with the police, injuring at least 26 police officers. The organizer, the Central Council of Eritreans in Germany, is considered to have close ties to the Eritrean government.

Eritrea, with a population of around 3 million, is located in north-east Africa on the Red Sea and is largely isolated internationally. Since gaining independence from Ethiopia 30 years ago, President Isayas Afewerki has ruled the country in a one-party dictatorship.

Political parties are banned, and freedom of speech and freedom of the press are severely restricted. There is no parliament, independent courts or civil society organizations. In addition, there is a strict military service and forced labour system, from which many people flee abroad.