Since July, violent riots against Eritrea festivals have occurred in several countries. A pattern is emerging. A suspicion falls on a city councilor in the German city of Gießen: Did the Green politician Klaus-Dieter Grothe even help the violent criminals with their finances?
Erhebliches Aufsehen erregte die Recherche von Matthias Nikolaidis im Ausland: Er beschreibt, wie in Gießen Politiker der Grünen eine kriminelle „Befreiungsfront“ beim Angriff auf Bürger ermutigt haben und danach versuchten, die Wahrheit zu verdrehen. Wegen vielfacher Anfragen aus anderen Ländern haben wir den Beitrag ins Englische übersetzt.
A series of outbreaks of violence against Eritrea festivals stands out from the summer news and demands an explanation. Several Western countries in Northern Europe and North America are affected. In Gießen, a medium-sized town in the German state of Hessen, there were numerous injuries at the beginning of July. The Hessian police advised against entering the city centre for a full Saturday. More than 1,000 police officers from three federal states were unable to prevent the outbreak of street battles, but were forced into close combat with the aggressors. More than 25 officers were injured. Injuries of the more serious kind – broken bones and wounds requiring stitches – were not uncommon.
A month later, there were very similar scenes in Stockholm, Toronto and Seattle. Thousands of kilometers in between, yet similar processes – that may make you suspicious. The “protests” against the festivals always seems well-organized and orchestrated, as in Sweden, where several hundred “demonstrators” engaged in skirmishes with the police, broke through a police barricade, and finally stormed the rented site around a former farm. Cars and tents were set on fire. The historic farmhouse in the suburb of Spånga-Tensta was also vandalized, the windows smashed and parts of the interior destroyed. At least 52 people were injured and 200 arrested.
In Sweden, the police had no patience with violent criminals
The latter speaks for an efficiency of police operations that has not been achieved in Germany (with many more officers deployed). A Stockholm police spokesman said: “The police are on the scene to stop these criminal acts. This is about people who have chosen not to follow the instructions of the police.” This is tantamount to a war against the security forces.
It was no different in Hesse. And yet hardly any violent criminals were arrested there, even ringleaders such as the notorious “John Black” (with the real name of Yohannes Abraha), resident in the Netherlands, were soon released. Otherwise, the excess of violence in Stockholm would probably have been unthinkable.
On the other hand, one may be surprised that the Swedes also showed so much patience and let a day of violence happen – especially since it had been openly announced on the Internet. Busloads of alleged “Eritrean opposition members” were brought to Stockholm from various European countries. In Gießen it had been no different. What is not quite so clear, however, is who the festival opponents really are and what moves them.
After the first outbreak of violence in Sweden, the police withdrew the permit for the “demonstrations”. The Swedish police came out well prepared: if more buses arrived in Sweden, they would be stopped in accordance with the country’s Aliens Act. Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer said: “It is not acceptable for Sweden to be drawn into the internal conflicts in other countries in this way.” The resources of the Swedish police were actually needed for other things, he continued. Indeed, the gang wars in Stockholm’s suburbs are far-reaching enough. There is surely no need for imported violent criminals from the Horn of Africa, who have been living as “refugees” in various EU countries for a long time and seem to be recruitable for various services at any time.
Fighters from Tigray on German streets?
The programme of the Stockholm festival, however, was no different from others of this kind which are organized worldwide by exiled Eritreans. The festival in Bologna is the oldest of this kind – and remained undisturbed to this day. The focus in all these festivals is usually on the country’s culture, traditional food, seminars, and concerts, including youth programs and children’s areas, one is assured by participants. The German-Eritrean Society, which is close to the Central Council of Eritreans in Germany – the organizer of the Gießen Festival – speaks of a family and cultural festival. Eritreans are scattered across the globe today, mainly due to the Thirty Years’ War of Independence the country fought from 1961 to 1991.
Opponents of the festivals complain that representatives of the Eritrean state or its embassies are also present, thus carrying out propaganda for the government. In addition, there is the uniform accusation that large amounts of donations are raised for the government of Isayas Afewerki at the festivals, which the organizers consistently deny. One of the opponents claimed, “This is not a festival, they teach their children hate speech.”
One could say that the man has learned his woke lesson: After all, hate speech can only ever be found on the other side of the political divide and is therefore a good killer argument in any dispute.
Festival-goers, on the other hand, describe the attackers as terrorists, at least some of whom are said to come from neighbouring Ethiopia, or more precisely, from the border region of Tigray, which is known for its belligerence and striving for independence. A two-year war by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) against Ethiopia and, ultimately, Eritrea ended only in November 2022. this conflict, it seems, shall now be continued in Europe and the Western world at large, as those in the know suggest. According to observers, the blame lies with the irredentist Greater Tigray ideology to which the political leadership of the defeated Tigray continues to adhere. Some of the Eritrean opposition members in exile seem to have allied themselves with these fighters – for one or the other reason. Maybe money also plays a role.
And that is in accordance with another point: It was only last summer that violent resistance to an Eritrean cultural event in Germany arose for the first time. There had never been anything like it before. But at a concert in August 2022, Eritrean women and construction helpers were pelted with stones and in some cases beaten up by intruders on the area of the Gießen fair grounds, named the Hessenhallen. Videos from the attacker’s point of view show a still relatively aimless crowd of young men ready to fight, picking up stones and throwing them in the direction of the fair hall, later arming themselves with some poles (for “Brged Nhamedu” shouts see the video below at 0:33).
According to a translation obtained by Tichys Einblick, the “dialogue” of the fighters goes like this. An instigator gives courage to the youths:
– “Look, look! The attack is in full swing!” – “Everything, everything! Everything will be smashed!” – “The attack is sure of victory!” – “Look at them, look at them! Our heroes!”
– “We led them (the attackers) across the field here and let them in! We have left the police behind!” – “And our boys roll here in the field and do their heroic deeds!” – “They’re all running to the back, even inside (meaning: in the Hessenhallen) everything is smashed!” – “Say Brged Nhamedu, look here, the youth in the carnage!” – “Yes, carnage! That’s the real life!” – “You can’t expect more from life!”
Impunity is also virtually guaranteed to the young thugs by their instigator: “Nothing can happen to you, just strike!” That time, in August 2022, the Hessian police had been taken by surprise by the severity of the attack, even though there had been indications of allegations of violence.
But they were turned a deaf ear on. The police were not sufficiently staffed and fell behind. It was only afterward that the authorities became aware that there was such a thing as a “Brigade Nhamedu” that planned and organized the attacks. What remained was: the chips from the stones thrown on the fair building, a damaged car, but also many injuries, physical and mental, of those Eritreans who had involuntarily become “defenders” in the Hessenhallen. The events have still not been legally dealt with.
After the first excess of violence, Grothe spoke of a “victory of democracy”
The aforementioned organization “Brigade Nhamedu” (in English “Brigade Mother Earth”), wich has openly spoken out in favour of violence, has only been in existence for a few months. But since its founding, it has been well networked with organizations that claim to be the backbone of the Eritrean opposition in Germany and Europe. Together, they pursue a so-called “twin path” of civic engagement and violent action – which is not a completely new strategy in the political struggle. What is new, at best, is that in this way conflicts from completely different parts of the world are carried to Germany and elsewhere and fought out here. Of course, this also is not entirely unique, considering the recent “tribal war” between Syrians and Lebanese in the Ruhr area.
Thanks to linguistically knowledgeable informants, Tichys Einblick has been able to report exclusively on this “twin path” between so-called “civil society” and violent groups, in which the Gießen “Mothers’ Initiative” is almost certainly involved, but also the Swiss-based “Eritrean Bright Future“, both of which can be considered close allies of the violent brigade. Tsehainesh Kiros, the well-known chairwoman of the “Mothers’ Initiative” in Giessen, expressly did not want to condemn the violence perpetrated in the summer of 2022, nor even distance herself from it. This already shows what kind of bloody war some of the people involved want to import into Germany.
And this is where another actor comes into play: When the Eritrean concert or cultural festival was cancelled due to the brutal violence, suffered in its run-up, the Green city councilor Klaus-Dieter Grothe, who according to many pictures and actions is a close friend of the supposed Eritrea opposition members, even spoke of a “victory for justice and democracy”. That was in a Facebook post, which he immediately deleted but by no means took back. He rather preferred to remain true to himself. Grothe had also been involved in the protest in August 2022, apparently once again contributing a car and giving a speech to those gathered, in which he spoke out strictly against the festival. At the same time, the “brigade” went about its work on the fair grounds. Seeing these connections and the coincidence in time, it cannot be wrong to look for connections between the Greens and the violent group.
Green mayor: Violent perpetrators came “just like that”
In any case, one could have been forewarned in Gießen after the experiences of 2022. But in July 2023, it would be the same actors who tried again to attack the Eritrea Festival, which until then had been able to take place without incident for ten years. As in the run-up to the August 2022 concert, there were again open threats of violence from “John Black” (alias Yohannes Abraha) and other comrades-in-arms. Tsehainesh Kiros, who had refused to distance herself from the violence last year, registered the new counter-demonstration, which was also approved.
When the junior mayor and director of the city’s public order department Alexander Wright (also a member of the Green Party) was asked how he could have approved of such a daring permit, he claimed that the applicant for the “counter-demonstration” – which, according to our findings, was Tsehainesh Kiros – had shown herself to be “extraordinarily cooperative” and thus provided no arguments for a ban. Later, however, Wright would add, the applicant “completely lost control“. The perpetrators of violence came “just like that,” Wright said in pretended naivety.
In addition, the organized “Eritrean opposition associations” held a large press conference in the Congress Hall, which belongs to a 100 percent subsidiary of the city of Gießen. All the allies of the violence sat together there – except for Brigade Nhamedu itself. The leading Tsehainesh Kiros and the doctor Dr. Rut Bahta from the Mainz association “United4Eritrea” formed the outwardly civilized wing. In the middle of the arrangement, Beyene Gerezgiher (chief of Eritrean Bright Future) took his seat, being already fairly open to the brigade leader “John Black”. Gerezgiher seems to support this group’s armed struggle half-covertly on social media and otherwise.
It can be said, that the city of Gießen thus housed the presentable wing of the troublemakers. As a result, public order mayor Wright tried to ban the festival and thus circumvent the feared violent “protests”. The Green mayor (and candidate for Chief Bürgermeister) Wright is even said to have successfully prompted the medical service booked by the organizers to withdraw from the contract – shortly before the start of the festival. This extraordinary intervention can only be described as a spoke put in the wheel of the festival. This is what can happen to a politically unpopular organizer in Germany in 2023. It was difficult and at higher cost for the Central Council of Eritreans to organize another medical service. If the accusation is true, it says bad things about the Green mayor of Gießen.
A Gießen Green “acts globally”
But even more dubious could be the role of the long-time city councilor Dr. Klaus-Dieter Grothe, who used to be chairman of his group in the Gießen city council. Grothe has a typically “Green” profile. According to the party’s website, Grothe’s motto is: “Think globally, act locally”. He is also involved in refugee aid. Moreover he is his parliamentary group’s current expert on integration and housing issues. Some things fit together exactly as they are.
On 22 March, Grothe hosted a panel discussion on the “Threat to refugees in Germany by transnational networks” (subtitle of the event) for the Greens, in which his medical colleague Dr. Rut Bahta (United4Eritrea) also participated. It was, of course, specifically about the conflict between Eritreans living abroad and supposedly Eritrean “refugees” (who may not be that at all). In addition to his city council seat, Grothe is currently committed as a psychiatrist in Athens, where he is probably worried about the progress of “refugees” on their way to Germany. Before he followed the same calling on the famed island of Lesbos.
From video chats with leading members of the aforementioned “Brigade Nhamedu”, which were presumably organized on TikTok, very strange news about this Green politician has been leaking out since July: According to this, Grothe not only maintained close friendships with the German anti-Eritrea alliance – which, by the way, seems to reach as far as the taz author Marina Mai – but even got his hands dirty on the terror money of the Tigray-affiliated “Brigade Nhamedu”.
Tichys Einblick has gained exclusive insight into these internal chats thanks to several informants. It helped that the brigade brothers did not even bother to hide their actions. The calls for violence are posted just as openly, as the joy at the “success” of a new attack will be later celebrated. Arrests and “counter-demonstration bans” such as those in Sweden are not a failure. The action of the group is only a matter of creating the greatest possible unrest, in order to disavow the peaceful part of the European or North American Eritrean community.
Did Grothe manage the brigade account? Greens do not disclaim
In the aforementioned chat, the leaders of the German brigade chapter express their exasperation with the financial conduct of their association. Literally, there is talk of an “account in Germany” to which funds had been transferred from a bank account in the USA. The speaker continues: “That’s where our funds are. To which club is the (account) registered? What connection does the association have to us? This club has not drawn up any contract with us, this account ultimately belongs to another club and not to the Brigade Nhamedu. We’re just asking questions.” The account, he continues, is managed by a “doctor from the Green Party”.
And here, however, the suspicion is extremely obvious that we are talking about the psychiatrist from Gießen with the knack for the German anti-Eritrea faction. The exact status of the bank account remains unclear, but it appears that Grothe was acting on behalf of an unknown association when he set up and operated the account in which various funds were parked for use in Germany or the EU. The speaker in the video goes on to say that the account originally belonged to another organization called “Yiakl“, which is also the subject of suspicion of the brigade brothers: The apparently allied Yiakl could get access to the money that was actually intended as a reward for the rowdies from “Mother Earth”.
One can still speculate about the identity of the account manager. No name was given. What is clear, however, is that a politician from the Green Party with a doctorate is involved in the violent operations of an internationally networked terrorist gang. Klaus-Dieter Grothe did not respond to a Tichys Einblick inquiry. In his place, the Gießen district chapter of the Greens replied: The Greens in Giessen, they say, know nothing about a “Brigade Nhamedu” and “do not manage any accounts for such an organization”. However, that was not the question asked as the account is said to have been managed by a “doctor from the Green Party”. A disclaimer sounds different.
The disorders in Canada were also announced by the “Brigade”
As a strange coincidence would have it, there is also a politician in Sweden who is accused of having instigated and supported the conflict between the Eritrea Festival there and its opponents for years. It is Åsa Nilsson Söderström of the liberal party Liberalerna, which are currently involved in the government of Ulf Kristersson. In a op-ed for Aftonbladet, Nilsson Söderström calls for the end of the festival in Stockholm which she prefers to term a “killer party”. This is slightly less subtle than the framing of the German media. But the arguments are well known: Eritrea is not a democracy, supposedly even one of the worst dictatorships in the world, as the Stockholm Institute for the Study of Democracy V-Dem claims to have found. There is talk of 10,000 dissidents, including Swedish citizen Dawit Isak, who is currently assumed to be held in an Eritrean prison.
On the other hand, the author Eyassu Tesfay, who took part in the festival, says that the festival is “a joyful contribution to Stockholm’s free culture and associations”. She urges Nilsson to inform herself first and then judge.
After the August 2023 wave of global violence against Eritrea festivals in Sweden and North America, Bright Future boss Gerezgiher posted the simple message: “Congratulations to our fighting people!” There are also indications of monetary payments from “Eritrean Bright Future” to the Nhamedu Brigade. Meanwhile, their leader posted that “the work” was by no means done. So there is no time to rest on your laurels.
Shortly after the Stockholm disturbances, “John Black” appeared on Facebook together with comrades-in-arms in an undestroyed part of Stockholm. The brigade leader next set his sights on the three-day festival in Toronto. “It won’t take place” and “Cancel” is written in his posts about the harmless-looking festival poster. It seems that “Black” succeeded in this case.
In Toronto, a public park was the venue for the festival. This is also where the opponents of the festival gathered and attacked once again with ice-cold precision. Tents were set on fire, and apparently some of the festival-goers fought back. At least nine people were injured. The police warned to avoid the area. The Canadian police did not take sides, giving the impression that they were protecting the attackers. Most recently, the city of Toronto even withdrew the festival’s approval.
— Simon K Hagos (@tewerwari_1) August 6, 2023
This is probably the plan of the German Greens, but also of other parties that deliberately overlook an important fact: the German state has more in common with the organizers of Eritrean cultural events in comparison with their opponents. German police were embraced as stewards around the festival, even asked for help, where festival-goers wanted to move from their hotels to the fair. The attackers and festival opponents, on the other hand, did not respect the forces of law or the law at all. The businessman operating the Gießen fair still sees himself in a dilemma: The city of Gießen asks him to stop renting to the Central Council of Eritreans, but there are apparently no arguments for this position. The Hessenhallen are required to rent out “non-discriminatory”.
The “anger of the fleeing men”
In the daily Tageszeitung (shortened as taz) which is close to the Green Party, the aforementioned Marina Mai – not exactly a prolific writer in the newspaper – wrote on July 10 that the excesses of violence in Gießen were “inexcusable”, but that the “anger of the … fleeing men” is very understandable. They have “gone through the hell of Eritrea and Libya,” she continues in the best refugee “war novel“ style. According to official statistics, there are about 36,000 Eritreans living in Sweden. They make up about four percent of the country’s non-Swedish population of 865,000, who make up about eight percent of Sweden’s population. In Germany, there are said to be 80,000 Eritreans.
But perhaps half of these “Eritreans” could not be from Eritrea at all… There have been considerable doubts about the identity and origin of these people since 2015. The former Austrian ambassador to Ethiopia, Andreas Melan, declared even before the great migration crisis (i.e. the first act, starting in 2015) that thousands of Ethiopians had pretended to be “Eritreans” in order to have a better chance of refugee protection. 30 to 40 percent of the “Eritreans” in the EU are actually Ethiopians, he considered along with other officials. This is another element in the chapter on asylum fraud in the EU. Some readers might know of the girl murderer of Illerkirchberg, allegedly an Eritrean national who wanted to marry a woman in Ethiopia.
The other Eritreans – those celebrating peacefully – have also come to Germany, Sweden, Italy, or the Netherlands as asylum seekers at some point. At that time, long before the year 2000, asylum procedures were much stricter. They were still a matter of proving political persecution. In addition, most of those who came back then are now economically well-integrated and, above all, live here without violence.
The fact remains: The hyper-identification of certain parts of German society with “the refugee” was at the root of the Gießen transgression. The Green Party and its entourage are known for such empathy with the allegedly persecuted of the world, and they seek to turn them into domestic political currency. This is becoming increasingly difficult in view of the real problems surrounding the accommodation and “integration” of immigrants.
In the case of the internationally organized, extremely violent Eritrea or perhaps Tigray fighters, which are the subject of this text, the Greens have failed most obviously. Anyone who wants to ban a peaceful festival with the argument of violent “counter-demonstrators” points out only one thing: the failure of his own (Green) image of the “poor victim refugee” which surely does not apply when someone tries to break German law with threats and violence.
Update: City councilor Grothe (Greens) has now denied any contact with the Brigade Nhamedu in the Gießener Allgemeine Zeitung, adding that he also doesn’t keep an account for them. That might be the case. But then it should be clarified who that „doctor from the Green Party“, spoken about in the online video chats of the German chapter of the brigade, is. In any case, Grothe is known to have since long maintained contacts with the opponents of the Eritrea Festival Gießen. These so-called „opposition groups“ seem to have close ties to the Brigade Nhamedu and Tigray groups. But even in his official disclaimer Grothe doesn’t deny what is said in this report: That he would have managed an account for some other organization on which the Nhamedu money was parked.