Eritrean group host conference in Stockholm

The Eritrean pro-government youth organization Young People's Front for Democracy and Justice will hold a conference in Stockholm starting Thursday, news agency TT reports. And one of President Isaias Afewerkis' closest advisors is scheduled to attend.

Sharp criticism comes from among others Arhe Hamednaca, a Social Democrat MP with roots in Eritrea. "It is terrible that they brainwash youth and gather them in Sweden to praise the dictatorship," he told the news agency TT.

But a spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Anders Jörle, plainly states that: "we have freedom of assembly in this country". The Eritrean regime has come under fire in Sweden for the imprisonment of the Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak, who has been in jail in Eritrea for over ten years without trial.

Faced with the information that Yemane Gebreab, a close advisor to the Eritrean president, will also take part in the conference, Anders Jörle told TT: "If there is an opportunity to meet with representatives of the Eritrean regime we will try to do that".

Arhe Hamednaca thinks there ought to be limits to the freedom of assembly. "I don't think we would have allowed al-Qaida to have a meeting to brainwash youth here," he told TT.

According to a press release from the YPFDJ website over 800 exiled Eritreans are expected to attend the conference. Where the conference will take place is a secret, the news agency TT reports. Originally the organisation had rented the Stockholm night club Berns for a party, but the club and the organisers later agreed to cancel the event.