Eritrean Embassy offering advice how to make illegal money transfers
The Eritrean Embassy in Israel is advising migrants in Israel how to transfer money back to Eritrea through a bank account in Germany, contrary to Israeli law, which forbids such transfers, a group of Eritrean migrants said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
The migrants called the press conference the morning after a brawl involving dozens of regime opponents and supporters at an event organized by the embassy at Kibbutz Kinneret on Saturday, in which over a dozen people were wounded and around 15 arrested. They said that the embassy gave instructions to migrants about how to transfer money and also advertised real estate in Eritrea, telling them that it was a good opportunity for them to build a house back in their home country.
The law stipulates that the transfer must be less than the minimum wage in Israel divided by the number of months the person has been in the country.
There were several hundred migrants taking part in the press conference on Saturday, activists in Tel Aviv said Sunday. They said a group of around 60 regime opponents arrived and were accused of being “Ethiopian instigators” by ambassador Tesfemariam Tekeste, at which time the say they were attacked.
The regime supporters and the ambassador said they were peacefully holding the meeting when they were set upon by Eritrean men wielding sticks and throwing rocks, with some wielding knives and screwdrivers.
At the press conference in an events hall near the Tel Aviv central bus station, regime opponents showed a pamphlet they say was being handed out by regime supporters at the event the previous day, which showed details of a bank called “Commerzbank” in Frankfurt. The pamphlet included a Swift code and details for transferring money through the German bank to the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea, where they were told to specify that the money was meant for the “Urban Development Eritrea – Housing Project 2013.”
For unclear reasons, the pamphlets were in English, not Tigrinye.
The Eritrean government requires citizens in the diaspora to pay a monthly tax in order to retain their passport and that tax as well as money sent home by citizens outside the country are major sources of revenue for the Eritrean government.
Attempts to reach the Eritrean embassy in Israel on Sunday were unsuccessful.
In May, a brawl broke out at a concert organized by the Eritrean embassy in Ramat Gan. The embassy invited four singers to give a concert for Eritrean Independence Day, with dozens of regime supporters and opponents brawling until the fights were broken up by police.