Canada: Eritrean Cultural Festival Canceled Over Fears It Might Become Too Vibrant

You never thought there could be such a thing as “too much vibrancy,” eh?

Well, then – you never met an Eritrean.

The Guardian:

A weekend of Eritrean cultural festivities in Toronto was canceled by city officials following outbreaks of violence and demonstrations by oponents of the Eritrean government.

Clashes between attendees and protesters left nine people in hospital and were the latest in a string of global skirmishes that have drawn fresh attention to human rights abuses in Eritrea and tensions between diaspora populations.

The violence in Toronto followed similar confrontations in Sweden, where more than 50 people were injured, and in Seattle, involving Eritrean protesters who say the cultural events offer support to one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

In the days leading up to the Festival Eritrea Toronto, the organizing group pleaded with Toronto police for protection to ensure the event was “festive and peaceful”.

But on Saturday morning, groups of protesters began tearing down tents and confronting attendees.

Danait Mehreteab, who was attending the festival, told CP 24 her father was “left for dead” after protesters allegedly singled him out after tearing down tents.

“They hit him over the head with a metal rod and continued to beat him while he was down,” she said, adding he required 12 staples on the top of his skull and suffered a fracture to the spine.

Toronto police constable Laura Braban said officers responded to reports of damaged tents and a person carrying a knife. While protesters initially dispersed, another group armed with weapons came to the park hours later, said Braban.

On Saturday evening, city officials revoked permits for the Festival Eritrea Toronto citing concerns over public safety.

“The city does not tolerate or condone violence of any kind and is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all who use or visit city parks.”

Community groups say the clashes have prompted “deep concern and distress” .

“While the [Eritrean Canadian Community Center of Metropolitan Toronto] is not affiliated with any of the organizers, we have consistently received numerous concerns from our community members regarding the event organizers’ close ties to the Eritrean government,” the organization said in a statement.

“These concerns are particularly distressing for some of our community members who have fled oppressive circumstances in their homeland, causing them to experience re-traumatization. We recognize the significance of these issues and are committed to addressing them with utmost sincerity and sensitivity.”

Toronto mayor Olivia Chow condemned the “unacceptable” violence.

“Millions celebrate their culture on Toronto’s streets and in our parks peacefully and joyfully each year,” she tweeted. “I wish anyone who was injured a quick recovery.”

The festival, centred on the cultural heritage of Eritrea, has been held in Toronto for several years without incident. But critics argue the event is a thinly veiled propaganda tool used to raise money for Eritrea’s pariah government.

“The event is sponsored by the totalitarian regime of Eritrea through operatives in Toronto to raise funds to finance its military establishment,” according to an online petition looking to cancel an event at Toronto’s Sheraton hotel.

Yeah, it’s not really fear of black violence.

That’s an everyday thing that is actually encouraged.

These Jews are against the government of Eritrea.

Because after all, if their government was stable and normal – then where would you get all of your Eritrean immigrants?

We require a totally messed up, violent Africa, because otherwise, these blacks wouldn’t want to come to Europe.

And we need these blacks.

Eritreans be vibrantin’ everywhere they go