News of Eritrea

Eritrean News Summary

complied by Barry Hillenbrand

Gloomy report on religious freedom

The U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom in Eritrea is once again extremely pessimistic. It notes that while the Eritrea’s 1997 Constitution guarantees religious freedom, the constitution’s provisions have yet to be implemented. Four religions — Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of Eritrea, Islam, and the Roman Catholic Church — have registerd with the government and have rights to operate.  Other religions have been denied licenses. Members of non-recognized religions suffer greatly. Says the report, “The government’s record on religious freedom remained poor. The government continued to harass and detain thousands of members of unregistered religious groups and retained substantial control over the four registered religious groups.” The report, available at: contains interesting–albeit discouraging–information about Eritrea and religious life within the country.

Just in time for Christmas

Smelting and production facilities at Bisha

There's lots of gold in these them hills

Nevsun Resources, a Canadian mining company, announced that its massive gold mine operation in Eritrea is nearly complete and will pour its first ore by the end of the year. After years of struggle and delays, the power plant and other systems are at last complete, says the company. The Bisha operation is expected to produce nearly 450,000 ounces of gold in the first year of operation, with a target of more than 1 million ounces after that. The last time we looked, gold was selling at $1387 per ounce. Bisha’s production cost for the gold, according to Nevsun, is $250 per ounce. The mine will also produce copper and Zinc. For more pictures and news see:

China and Eritrea

Anyone who has traveled in Africa in the last few years can not have missed seeing the tremendous inroads China has made. They are building roads and rail lines. They are investing in factories. They are buying all the natural resources they can manage. They are sending teachers and doctors. They are acting like the Americans did in the 1960s, except, perhaps, on a larger more rapacious scale. China has even managed to gain a foothold for business in Eritrea. A recent article in the People’s Daily (See ) outlines the breadth of their operations there. The story quotes President Isaias Afewerki: “Eritrea can be a gateway for investment in Africa if we can take advantage of our excellent strategic location. Our partnership with China, even though it is in its early stages, will dramatically change the reality in this country and give us a greater global interaction.” China is particularly interested in the Free Trade Zones that Eritrea is starting up in Massawa and Assab. “Our priority has shifted to China,” says Negash Afworki, general manager of the Red Sea Trading Corporation, a government owned company managing the free trade zone. China is also working to secure Eritrean cotton and a foothold in telecommunications.

Author with the Eritrean Tattoo

Larsson: professor of Grenade 101

Stieg Larsson, the Swedish author who has recently gained fame for his Lisbeth Salander trilogy which includes “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” turns out to have curious relation with Eritrea. Larsson, who died at the age of 50 before his books gained success, was a life-long leftist with strong Trotskyite tendencies. After his two years of required military service in Sweden, Larsson spent a year in Eritrea training women fighters in Marxist guerrilla operations. According to a British publication, he specialized in the use of grenade launchers, probably the famed B-40 rockets. For a summary of Larsson’s leftist background, including too few sentences about his work in Eritrea, see:

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