Toronto, the capital city of Ontario, Canada, has revoked the permit for the Festival Eritrea, an annual cultural event, following a series of violent clashes between participants and protesters. The clashes resulted in nine people being sent to the hospital and caused significant traffic disruptions. The city announced the permit revocation in a statement shared on social media, stating that it would come into effect on Saturday evening at 10 p.m.
The Festival Eritrea, which takes place in Earlscourt Park, has been held annually for years without any major incidents. However, this year, violence erupted shortly after the event started on Saturday morning. Toronto Police Const. Laura Brabant reported that officers arrived at the scene after receiving a report of a stabbing just before 10:01 a.m. One person was stabbed, while eight others sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Two additional individuals received treatment from paramedics at the scene.
Protesters gathered at the festival to voice their opposition, claiming that it supports the Eritrean government, which has been criticized by human rights organizations for its oppressive regime. Despite a significant police presence throughout the day, tensions escalated in the afternoon when another group armed with weapons arrived at the park. This led to the blocking of St. Clair Avenue West at Caledonia Park Road, causing further disruptions.
Additional officers, including riot police, were deployed to separate the confrontational groups and restore peace. They remained at the scene until approximately 8:30 p.m. According to a report by Nationalpost.com, an ongoing investigation is being conducted, including the review of video footage and witness interviews. The authorities have pledged to continue evaluating and managing similar events in Toronto while ensuring the safety of peaceful demonstrations.
The Festival Eritrea had events scheduled for all three days of the August long weekend at Earlscourt Park. However, a Change.org petition addressed to a downtown Sheraton Hotel called for the cancellation of the festival-related activities, alleging that it is sponsored by the Eritrean regime. The Eritrean government is internationally recognized as repressive, and the country has seen mass migration as individuals seek to escape conditions such as forced military conscription.
Similar tensions unfolded in Sweden the previous week during an Eritrean festival held in Stockholm. Approximately one thousand protestors disrupted the event, resulting in numerous injuries.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 6, 2023.
– The city of Toronto revoked the permit for the Festival Eritrea due to violent clashes between participants and protesters, resulting in nine people being hospitalized and significant traffic disruptions.
– Protesters claimed that the festival supports the oppressive Eritrean government, which has been criticized by human rights organizations.
– Despite a strong police presence, tensions continued to escalate throughout the day until riot police were deployed to separate the confrontational groups.
– An ongoing investigation is being conducted, including the analysis of video footage and witness accounts.
– A Change.org petition called for the cancellation of festival-related activities, alleging sponsorship by the Eritrean regime.
– Similar disturbances occurred during an Eritrean festival in Stockholm, Sweden, with around one thousand protestors causing disruptions and injuries.