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A police officer stands after riots at an Eritrea event on September 16

Photo: Jason Cheplyakov / dpa

After the massive riots on the sidelines of an Eritrea event in Stuttgart, the planned next meeting of this kind is not to take place. As the city of Stuttgart announced on Wednesday evening, the lease for the assembly hall with the Association of Eritrean Associations in Stuttgart and the surrounding area had been cancelled "by mutual agreement". Actually, members of Eritrea associations had wanted to meet in Zuffenhausen on Saturday. The pressure on the city had grown after the riots over the weekend. Opposition parties had called for a ban on the event to be examined.

The decision has now been made in the interest of public safety and order, the city said. Mayor Clemens Maier had held intensive talks with those responsible for the association.

Postponed »indefinitely«

"We only did this to take more account of the concerns of citizens and the public," said Johannes Russom of the umbrella organization of Eritrean associations in Stuttgart, the German Press Agency. However, it is not a capitulation to violence, the cancellation should not send the wrong signal. They will continue to hold events in Stuttgart and they want to rent rooms from the city again in the future. Saturday's meeting was only postponed – "indefinitely," Russom said. The aim is to contribute to the de-escalation of the situation.

Last Saturday, the police defended the event of the Eritrean associations against violently rioting demonstrators. Opponents of the event attacked participants and, above all, police officers. As a result, 31 police officers were injured. Baden-Württemberg's Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU) spoke on Monday of an "angry, violent and armed mob" against which the police officers would have had to defend themselves in order to protect the event.

228 suspected demonstrators who have been arrested in the meantime are being investigated, among other things, for serious breach of the peace and dangerous bodily harm.

Stuttgart joins numerous similar conflicts: for example, in July for the second time in Giessen, but also in August in Stockholm. Opponents accuse the organizing clubs of supporting the one-party dictatorship in Eritrea. In the isolated country, there is no parliament, no independent courts, hardly any freedom of expression or freedom of the press. There is a strict system of military service and forced labour, from which many Eritreans flee abroad.