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The Human Trafficking Deception Against Eritrea

A false report written by three women with alarming ties to Ethiopia's regime attempts to slander Eritrean military officials

The Human Trafficking Deception Against Eritrea

Recently, a false human trafficking report written by Mirjam van Reisen, Meron Estefanos and Conny Rijken was echoed throughout Western media outlets after their friend and long-time Ethiopian regime sympathizer, Martin Plaut, highlighted their allegations for the Guardian news agency.

In the era of sound bites and yellow journalism, it doesn't take much to shape negative perceptions, especially towards a developing country with an underdeveloped digital media presence like Eritrea. However, for most Eritreans, the story is being met with a high dose of skepticism. To understand why this is the case, you have to first know the backgrounds of those writing the report.

In late 2009, Mirjam van Reisen, who is a professor from the Netherlands, gave an interview to her friend, Meron Estefanos. During the interview, which was published on, Mirjam made a number of inflammatory and disrespectful remarks about Eritrea and Eritreans.

"Eritrea reminds me most of East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, where people would risk their lives to escape." Said Mirjam. "What is also similar to the situation between East and West Germany is the relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The split between the countries is very artificial."

Despite being a professor, Mirjam doesn't seem to understand that all borders are artificial, including Ethiopia's and the Netherland's. To single out and claim Eritrea's independence is 'very artificial' would imply other borders drawn up by men centuries ago are very natural.

This ridiculous double standard isn't limited to Eritrea's sovereignty, either. Mirjam conveniently seems to neglect that more people are fleeing Ethiopia than any country in Africa. In fact, in 2012, it is estimated around 400,000 Ethiopian women left their country. Since most migrants who flee their homeland are men, then its very plausible to believe that around a million people are leaving Ethiopia annually (legally and illegally). Moreover, a recent Gallup poll conducted in Ethiopia shows that nearly half the population (46%) wants to leave the country.

But it gets worse. Mirjam goes on to add:

"Most of my friends have family on both sides of the border. We need Meles to play the role of Chancellor Kohl, who in 1989 set everything (including important outstanding border issues) aside to overcome the artificial separation, which made the East German regime crumble."

Mirjam believes the Ethiopian regime, which has killed tens of thousands of its citizens and invaded most of its neighbors, is the right regime to overcome this 'artificial separation'. Such inflammatory and incentive comments by her only highlights why her latest human trafficking report on Eritrea is nothing more than a politically motivated fabrication intended to reverse the country's hard won independence.

Her friend Meron Estifanos, who is a half Ethiopian, half Eritrean woman from Sweden, seems uncomfortable with Eritrea's independence, too. Meron, who styles herself as a human rights activist and a journalist (she's not accredited), is known to work closely with the Ethiopian regime and regularly contributes to, a website that openly seeks to reverse Eritrea's independence. Like Mirjam, Meron doesn't see the hypocrisy in claiming to be a human rights activist and working with Ethiopia's regime.

Keep in mind, this is an Ethiopian regime that has killed 193 protesters in Addis Ababa;  400 Anuaks in Western Ethiopia; thousands in the Ogaden and at least 50,000 Oromos. To put it in a sports perspective, the Ethiopian regime is the Michael Jordan of human rights abuses. When you compare the numbers, it's not even close. So for these women to work with this regime only underscores their sheer hypocrisy.

Similarly, Conny Rijken, who is Associate Professor from the Netherlands, is also known to work with Ethiopia's regime. Of the three, she is the least known among Eritreans. Although if the old adage of "show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are," still holds true, then she certainly subscribes to Mirjam's and Meron's anti-Eritrea independence rhetoric.

It's important to remember that this report was a well coordinated psychological attack involving a number of people, including Martin Plaut, Dan Connell and several senior Ethiopian officials, who over the last few years, have shifted their focus on falsely linking human trafficking of economic migrants to the Eritrean government in the hopes of a regime change in Eritrea.

In highlighting this point, Dan Connell, who lately seems to believe he is the de facto leader of the so-called Eritrean opposition, makes it clear that a 'campaign' should be waged to link human trafficking to the Eritrean government because he feels no other topic will tap the emotions of gullible, uninformed people in the West. Last summer, in a meeting held in Toronto, Dan said:

"A campaign should be simple direct and uncomplicated. Other obvious issues that can be in some way linked, focusing our attention on the trafficking issue and always linking it to the source of the refugee flows. This trafficking issue is a consequence of the situation inside Eritrea. No other issue is likely to generate attention and support from the American public."

The Eritrean government isn't clueless to this human trafficking campaign, either. It's fully aware of this phony "Kony 2012" style deception being waged on the country.

"The game-plan of Eritrea's arch-enemies is simple indeed: chisel at the edifice of the Government through dogged campaign of disinformation.Said Yemane G. Meskel, a senior Eritrean official. "They feel if they can discredit the Eritrean government through slander and lies in the media, that this can open up the possibility of reversing Eritrea's independence."

On its part, the Eritrean government has made it clear that it wants an independent UN investigation on human trafficking of migrants. In fact, the government believes only a united effort involving all neighboring countries, including Ethiopia, can truly curb the trafficking of migrants in the region. However, these calls for investigation have fallen on deaf ears. To admit the government they are shamelessly trying to accuse of human trafficking wants an investigation may give the reader the impression that it has nothing to hide, which doesn't bode well for their distorted narrative.

In conclusion, the report isn't about caring for economic migrants; it's about slandering Eritrea's government to induce sanctions from the international community. But the ultimate goal of the authors is to discredit the country as a viable state. As Mirjam puts it, she wants to end this "artificial separation" between Eritrea and Ethiopia. These slanderous and false reports are designed to dehumanize the Eritrean government to the point that even if Ethiopia tries to invade and occupy the country in the future, the international community would look the other way, since these report helped shape a distorted perception that such actions would be deemed the lesser of two evils.


Related reading: Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against Eritrea
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The Human Trafficking Deception Against Eritrea Reviewed by Admin on 10:22 AM Rating: 5


  1. December has unofficially become " Lets hate and try our little efforts to dis inform about Eritrea and demonize Eritrea " Month. Its like all the snakes come out from Hibernation !
    This year it makes it a little different because it coincides with the Rumors of the eminent Lifting of the UNjust Sanctions .
    Thanks for the Amazing article @Madote . Keep it up. .Proud of you Yehewat.

  2. Meron Estefanos is about as half Eritrean as Hitler was half Jew. Meron is Ethiopian by action and by blood.

  3. Hi jigna not only half , she was born and raised at bar no family value no moral and if we look her personal life unmarried no children, since she have a miserable life she doesn't want see the good and the success of eritrean and eritrean government.

  4. zegerem iyu../meraviglia../wonder../étonnant../Wunder./


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