Security staff patrolling the Eritrean festival in Bologna have been accused of setting upon anti-government protesters. The festival, now in its fortieth year, attracts Eritreans from across Europe. The Eritrean government uses it as a means of bolstering its flagging support among the diaspora and this year it has attracted hundreds of Eritrean protesters, who oppose the regime. Eritrean TV – EriTV – normally provides live coverage of the festival. This year this has been limited – perhaps a reflection of lower than expected attendance.
In the first incident, which took place on Friday evening, two members of the official security staff allegedly attacked demonstrators, injuring two of them. One needed stitches in his head, the other to his head and back. The Festival security staff were identified by the distinctive T-shirts they wear, with a read heart logo called “Eri blood” with a picture of a red heart. (see final picture below)
The second incident happened on Saturday. During a demonstration outside the festival, Eritrean government supporters tried to provoke the demonstrators by driving their car into the demonstrators. One person was injured – he is shown below. He is reported to be OK.