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Canada expelling Eritrean diplomat for using consulate to shake down citizens for ‘national defence’

TORONTO — Canada is expelling an Eritrean diplomat after he was caught using his consulate in Toronto as a fundraising front for the repressive African regime and its military in violation of international sanctions. Consul Semere

TORONTO — Canada is expelling an Eritrean diplomat after he was caught using his consulate in Toronto as a fundraising front for the repressive African regime and its military in violation of international sanctions.

Consul Semere Ghebremariam O. Micael was ordered home Wednesday after a government investigation confirmed his office was soliciting money from expatriates — some of it explicitly for the Eritrean armed forces.

The fundraising scheme was illegal because the United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions on the Eritrean military over its support for armed groups in the Horn of Africa such as the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab.

“Canada has taken steps to expel (declared persona non grata) Mr. Semere Ghebremariam O. Micael, Consul and head of the Eritrean Consulate General in Toronto, effective immediately,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement.

Mr. O. Micael must leave Canada by noon on June 5. As is typical in such cases, the government gave no explanation for the expulsion. The statement said only that Ottawa had repeatedly told Eritrea to respect international sanctions and Canadian law.

“Today’s actions speak for themselves,” Mr. Baird said.

The expulsion is meant to send a message to the Eritrean regime that its illicit fundraising practices would not be tolerated in Canada. It comes after Foreign Affairs had repeatedly warned Eritrea in diplomatic notes to stop.

But the consul continued anyway and last week the National Post revealed that as recently as two weeks ago he was still using his office to pressure Canadians to hand over 2% of their wages to the regime, as well as an additional $300 to $500 for the country’s military.

“I think it had to happen. The consulate was warned and ignored the warning,” said David Matas, the Eritrean-Canadian Human Rights Group’s senior legal counsel.

“The people who were being victimized were Canadian dual nationals and permanent residents. It was essential that the government of Canada stand up for Canadians being victimized on Canadian soil by a foreign government.

In an interview Monday, Mr. Micael denied he was collecting taxes and insisted he was only providing “information” on how donate to his impoverished government. He also said he had not collected money for the military for “five, six years.”

But an internal letter distributed by the consulate last August explained how to send money collected in Canada to the regime’s military. “Victory to the masses!” read the one-page letter, obtained by the National Post.

It told consulate “representatives” how to use a German bank account to transfer “payments” from Canada meant for Eritrea’s Ministry of Defence. Dated Aug. 31, 2012, the letter was evidence of an organized attempt by the Eritrean consulate to fundraise for the state and its armed forces in defiance of Canada’s repeated demands that it stop.

Eritrean-Canadians had long complained about the taxation system, calling it extortion. The Eritrean-Canadian Human Rights Group recently provided new evidence of the ongoing fundraising scheme to the Post as well as to Foreign Affairs, which was already conducting its own investigation.

Mr. Micael was Eritrea’s only accredited diplomat in Canada. The government statement said Eritrea was welcome to send a replacement “but that person must be prepared to play by the rules. Our resolve should not be further tested.”

Since winning independence 20 years ago following a war with Ethiopia, Eritrea has fomented instability in the region by supplying weapons, training and cash to several armed groups. As a result, in 2009 the UN imposed sanctions on Eritrea.

A one-party state, the country is one of the world’s most repressive and impoverished. It has failed to develop a formal economy and is dependent on “diaspora taxes” imposed on the large number of expatriates who have fled the country.

The taxes are collected at embassies and consulates around the world, including until recently in Toronto. The UN reported that “threats, harassment and intimidation against the individual concerned or relatives in Eritrea” were used to extract tax payments.

National Post

Link: Canada expelling Eritrean diplomat for using consulate to shake down citizens for ‘national defence

Review overview
  • Open your eyes May 30, 2013

    genet please open your eyes and your heart .please answer these. Eritrea a democratic nation?
    2.why do you think everyone is out from his country including you ,is it for economic reasons? many lives did Esayas killed and still continue killing ,probably you might have a direct family member whom you lost .why is it what your heart thinking doesn’t fit what you write at the web ?
    4 .I believe you are smart but if you cant open your heart and stand for the TRUTH,you are on the wrong side of GOD.Dont get fucked up. you have one life and you are going to die like your brother Esayas one day and study the bible in hell .sorry I forgot there is no Bible in hell. sister WAKE UP ,

    • Eritreawit June 1, 2013

      Open your eyes.

      I think you are misreading Genet’s posts,asking questions as she is pfgj supporter. SHE IS NOT PLEASE READ HER POSTINGS. You should apologize to her. She is prilliant,loves her country. please read her postings not the posting copy and paste by other people (KAZEN FOR EXAMPLE).

  • Kabbire May 30, 2013

    Whoever is the Canadian Consul General in Asmara should be ready to leave Eritrea soon. The Asmara regime will confiscate all the houses and businesses he bought and send him back to Canada with few Canadian dollars.
    The Canadian representative in Eritrea is not doing a good job representing Canada.

    • Ali June 8, 2013

      You the regem is teef mafia way going to the casino let Canadian that mine the reg and you teef they going to hell

  • Tamrat Tamrat May 30, 2013

    Poor canda People. this harsh kick back from Asmara destroy canda to ground and froce them to mass exodes to South, USA. Ops! They suffer more because they will be crushed by americal pfjd. They dont who these candaians messing With.

  • Mohammed May 30, 2013

    Remember that Canada is takeing this action to respect the international low, and it dose´nt matter if the action coasts the contract or business.

  • Berhe Tensea May 31, 2013

    What a fantastic demonstration,,,,,,,
    I am happy that the regime in Eritrea is shamed.
    The demonstrators were more than enough and very motivated to do a wonderful job.

  • La Verita June 1, 2013

    This is silly if the expelling of the diplomat is done in relation to the 2%…There is no way the Canadian government could stop the 2% the brunt of the problem will be carried by the Eritreans leaving in Canada.Now when ever you want/have to pay you will have to go all the way Eritrea ( cost of plane ticket,….expense) I forgot some of us can’t go to Eritrea because of our asylum claim “oops we didn’t think of that” will be the answer of the Eritrean-Canadian Human Rights Group

  • beka June 1, 2013

    I am very proud of Canadian government thanks!!!

  • Teckle June 2, 2013

    I Suppose Canada should stop sending food aid to Ethiopia and the likes too as it is intended to cripple the recipient, do they really want people to stand with their own two feet? This is how they show it.

  • Open your eyes June 4, 2013

    Genet I am sorry ,I miss read your comment ,

  • Open your eyes June 4, 2013

    Asmera 2 I want to tell you this.listen if you have a brain that functions.

    1. The 2 percent contribution started to help the fighting Eritrean army for independence before Eritrean independence but it continued till today so your leader and his gang can have what ever they want .forget this 2 percent I am sure you have a brother who gave his only life for you ,me and the Eritrean people ,so Eritrea will be free from any kind of human oppression .is this what you see today in Eritrea.?
    2.can you or the people in Eritrea say anything (any opinion) when you go for vacation to Eritrea?
    3.Esayas officially said multiple times “I will be the leader till I die”,we don’t need democracy.,and a lot …… Do you really want him this much even he kills your brothers and sisters?
    4. 50 years in power, what a mess ,as if Eritrea has no better person than this idiot ,he can’t even make decent life for 5 million people and he got the gat to talk about other nations.and you are one of his supporter wake up.
    5. Anything what you see in Eritrea is meaningless,don’t get bulled by what they tell you.Any layman can ran Eritrea better than this group.they will put fear in you saying Woyane million times ,historically we Eritreans can beat anybody if we are one people as usual,but we will never be one we this type of leadership.Wake up and do and say the right thing.

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