Eritrean activist in Sweden exposes diaspora tax collection tactics of the PFDJ regime – English transcription
Telephone rings and a recorded incoming call message is played prompting the caller to choose an option. More rings and what appears to be a recorded voice message recording starts playing before a woman , presumably
Telephone rings and a recorded incoming call message is played prompting the caller to choose an option.
More rings and what appears to be a recorded voice message recording starts playing before a woman , presumably an employee of the Eritrean Embassy answers the call . We’ll refer to this individual as “EE” as she does not give out her name. Below is a transcription of the conversation between the caller and “EE”.
Caller: Hello, good morning.
EE: I’m well, thanks God.
Caller: My name is Biniam. I have a very urgent matter and I’m calling to inquire about getting a visa.
Caller : Yes, about visa to Eritrea.
EE: Ok, do you not have an Eritrean national ID?
Caller: I don’t.
EE: You never had one?
Caller: I only have a Swedish passport.
EE: Have you ever had an Eritrean ID?
Caller: I beg your pardon?
EE: I’m asking you if you’ve ever had one.
Caller: I don’t have one.
EE: Did you lose it or you’ve never had it?
Caller: I used to have one but I lost it. I am of Eritrean origin but am a Swedish citizen now.
EE: I still don’t understand.
Caller: I’m asking if I can get a visa using my Swedish passport
EE: Forget that tell me have you ever had an Eritrean ID or not?
Caller: I had one a long time ago.
EE: So if you had one where is it now, did you lose it?
Caller: Right, I lost it.
EE: In that case your visa application must be made in Eritrea.
Caller: What do you mean?
EE: Where was your Eritrean ID issued?
Caller: In Eritrea, a long time ago. About 20 years.
EE: You’re going to have to fulfill your obligations then.
Caller: I beg your pardon?
EE: Are you registered here? With us?
Caller: I don’t think so. What does registered mean?
EE: Have you come here and gotten registered with us?
Caller: I don’t think I was ever registered.
EE: You need to check.
Caller: But wouldn’t it be quicker to apply for a visa?
EE: You can apply.
Caller: Ok, what do I need to do?
EE: You can fill out an application with your passport.
Caller: My Swedish one?
Caller: What are the requirements?
EE: When did you leave Eritrea?
Caller: In 2000.
EE: Did you leave legally or illegally?
Caller: I left legally.
EE: Do you have proof that you left legally.
Caller: Yes but it was on my Eritrean passport.
EE: Then we’ll have to inquire about that.
Caller: But isn’t is easier if I just applied using my Swedish passport.
EE: There’s no such thing! If you’re Eritrean, you don’t need a visitor visa.
EE: You have to realize that visas aren’t issued to Eritreans.
Caller: So I can’t get a visa even as a Swedish citizen?
EE: Listen, if your ID is lost then you’ll have to use your passport of course but as an Eritrean one must fulfill the obligations that Eritrea requires.
Caller: What does that mean? What do I need to fulfill?
EE: If you had the ID, there would be no need to get a visa but since you don’t have one, you need to fill out the application and bring it here and then we’ll give you information about what you need to do.
Caller: Ok, great. Do you know how long it would take? How many days?
EE: No, let me transfer you to Abdelrahman. (“A”)
EE then transfers the call and a man answers and says “Visa Section”.
Caller: Hello, Abdelrahman?
Caller: She transferred me to you. I have an urgent matter. I have a sick family member back home and I’m trying to apply for a visa with my Swedish passport. She transferred me to you so that you can give me information.
A: Don’t you have an ID?
Caller: I don’t
A: You’ve never had one?
Caller: I had one in the past but I lost it.
A: Where did you get it?
Caller: In Eritrea.
Caller: Around 2000.
A: How long have you been in Sweden?
Caller: I’ve been in Sweden for almost 8 years.
A: Did you come here and get registered?
Caller: I don’t think I was registered. I’ve never come to the Embassy.
A: Well, now where do you live?
Caller: I live in Sundvall.
A: So now, go to the website. By the way, do you have anyone who lives back home?
Caller: In Eritrea?
Caller: My mother is there.
A: Ok, you need to fill out the form, include a picture, a copy of your passport, and your mother’s phone number. I will send an e-mail. Then your mother needs to go to Consular Affairs and let them know that you’re her son. Do you know your Eritrean ID number?
Caller: I don’t. But I think the quickest thing to do would be for me to apply as a Swedish citizen using my Swedish passport.
A: It has to come from home, you see?
A: The permission has to come from back home. For the visa.
A: So we send your application to Immigration Services and they give the permission.
Caller: OK, so all I need to submit is the photos, the application and copy of my passport.
A: Yes, and you need to include a short note explaining that you had a national ID but that you lost it. I then send your application and your mother needs to go and talk to them.
Caller: Ok, good.
A: Don’t forget to send me her phone number.
Caller: No problem. I can do that.
A: Ok, do that.
Caller: How long does that take? Do you know?
A: It depends on how quickly your mother acts on this.
Caller: OK. So this is the only option.
A: In addition, when the permission is granted, you’ll have to pay at least half of 2%.
Caller: Where? Do I tell my family to pay 2% of my income in Eritrea?
A: No, you’ll pay it here. From the time you got papers here. You send your income statement and then they’ll look at the documentation and they’ll tell you how much you need to pay.
Caller: I am not employed. I am social welfare.
A: That’s fine. That’s all documented on the “SKAT/SCAT” papers. They’ll look at it and will tell you.
Caller: But since I’m on social welfare, that doesn’t apply to me, right?
A: No, we’ll have to see when your documents get here.
A: just send in your documents.
Caller: Next Friday is Good Friday, are you open or closed? I have some time that day and can come there.
A: Friday the 3rd is a red day.
A: you really don’t need to come here. you can just mail everything by post.
Caller: Ok. but the Embassy is closed on that day, right?
A: Yes, we’ll be closed.
Caller: Than you very much, Abdelrahman.
A: You’re welcome. No problem.