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International community accused of "double standards"

President Isayas Afewerki's top economic adviser, Dr Woldai Futur, on Thursday accused the international community of subjecting Eritrea to "double standards" over human rights issues.

Speaking to reporters at the Office of the President in Asmara, he said conditions imposed on Eritrea in the field of human rights were "much harsher" than those imposed on other countries.

He also reiterated the government's position that the closure of the private press and the detention of dozens of political leaders and journalists in 2001 was - however regrettable - necessary in order to ensure the country's national security.

Dr Woldai said that the European Union had, for example, recently taken positions "against Eritrea", while "rewarding Ethiopia" with further development assistance, despite a "worse" human rights record there.

"We didn't massacre people," Woldai said in reference to anti-government protests in Addis Ababa last year when dozens of students were killed by the Ethiopian military. "We put people in jail. There is a difference. So there is a double standard there."

He said human rights were being violated by a number of donor countries which had been critical of Eritrea's current political climate, including the United States, which he said had recently jailed a number of people of Arab descent simply because of the colour of their skin.

"Every nation has to do to what it has to do to survive and to ensure its own national security," he said.

Woldai, who asserted that the Eritrean government remained open to criticism, also said that it expected the international community to ensure implementation of an independent Boundary Commission's decision on demarcation of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and other top officials in his government have implied in recent weeks that they may not accept the commission's ruling, issued last April, on where the disputed boundary lies.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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