Eritrean migrants have been filmed participating in yet another street battle in Europe, this time in Norway, with Eritreans attacking one another with bats, bottles and iron rods on the streets of Bergen, the country’s second-largest city.
The riots were a top story in Norway, normally a peaceful country, and prompted a response from Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to Norwegian newspaper VG.
“This is completely unacceptable,” he said. “Today, we have seen violence and confrontation in Bergen between Eritreans because of the situation in Eritrea. It is completely unacceptable to use violence and go to violent confrontations and attacks on the police in Norway.”
On Saturday, video of supporters of Eritrean’s government and anti-government protesters showed the level of violence seen from the opposing sides.
As the video shows, police struggled to contain the situation, with Eritreans hurling cobblestones at one another and the police. Only one person was charged with assaulting a police officer, while two other people have been charged with failing to follow a police officer’s orders.
The riots began after the Eritrean Association in Hordaland marked the beginning of the war of liberation against Ethiopia. However, organizers of the street festival said they do not support the current government in Eritrea, nevertheless, anti-government protesters still targeted the festival.
Riot police moved in after over six hours of rioting near King Oscar’s gate in central Bergen. The police were deployed with gas masks, helmets, and shields, and were supported by a helicopter.
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By 4:00 p.m., police regained control of the situation, but at 6:00 p.m., battles once again took place, with about 200 protesters still near the city center. At approximately 10:00 p.m., all protesters were dispersed from the area.
Battles between Eritreans in Europe have become commonplace. Just last month, a similar battle took place during an Eritrean festival in Sweden, resulting in 52 injuries. On Saturday, however, Israel saw perhaps the worst violence between supporters of Eritrea’s government and anti-government protesters, with Israeli police resorting to using live ammunition on the protesters. Over 150 protesters were injured, with nearly 15 with life-threatening conditions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded by vowing to deport 1,000 Eritreans involved in the violence. Given Israel’s strict immigration policies, Netanyahu likely has the power to move forward with such deportations.
“What happened yesterday crossed a red line. It’s a riot, it’s bloodshed, these are riots we cannot accept. Therefore, the first thing I do is to wish recovery to the police officers who were injured during the attempts to restore order. We ask for strong measures against the rioters, including the immediate deportation of those who took part in it,” said Netanyahu in a speech.
Such violence is also routine in Germany, with each year seeing mass riots at the Eritrea festival. This year, 131 arrests were made and 26 officers wounded during the street battles.