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Eritrea: Diplomat demanded a share of her annual income in Canada

Ottawa (HAN) June 22, 2014 – Updates news and views: Eritrean Diplomatic Immunity Series 1 Part 2.  An Eritrean diplomat told Geeska Afrika Online, When Americans moving overseas, one of the biggest questions many have concerns is American Expat Tax. Unfortunately, America is one of a handful of countries that vigorously pursues taxes worldwide, such as Eritrea – so don’t expect to avoid a U.S. tax debt by moving overseas as well as Eritrean diaspora obligations to their homeland-Eritrea. As a matter of fact, you’re not even allowed to give up your U.S. citizenship to eliminate a tax obligation, he concluded his point of you defending Eritrean Tax Scam in Canada.

Today Part 2 series: In a modest Edmonton apartment, Alberta, Canada, Wegahta Tesfamariam draws her slim hand across her cheek and explains how her native country is trying to make her a victim of a tax scam Canada thought it shut down a year ago.

 By,  Rick MacInnes-Rae is the World Affairs Correspondent for CBC News. A former Europe Correspondent and host of Dispatches, his 36-year- career has taken him across much of the globe.

The Eritrean Wegahta Tesfamariam  28-year-old is a permanent resident of Canada, not yet a citizen, and had to renew her Eritrean passport back in February to travel.

Wegahta Tesfamariam  was in for a nasty surprise. As she told CBC News, Eritrea demanded a share of her annual income in a levy some liken to extortion.

“There is a representative of the government in Edmonton. He asked me first I should pay two per cent.

“I was like, surprised. I know that paying two per cent stopped in Canada last year. He said, ‘If you need any service from Eritrean government, that’s what you have to do.’ I clearly told him I don’t want to pay that.”

And no wonder. Tesfamariam’s bill would come to roughly $1,200, a lot of money for a newcomer to Canada just a few years into the workforce. Although, as a trained drafting technologist, she’s in a better economic place than many Eritreans who work here at the bottom of the skills ladder.

Other countries also tax their nationals living abroad, but Eritrea’s has brought about a special degree of global condemnation because of the surreptitious way it goes about collecting the money, and because it is a repressive regime that has been under UN-imposed economic sanctions since 2009 for financing insurgent movements in the Horn of Africa.

Wegahta Tesfamariam

When Eritrean-born Wegahta Tesfamariam, who lives in Edmonton, recently tried to renew her Eritrean passport, her home country demanded a share of her annual income in a levy some liken to extortion. (CBC)

Canada subscribes to those UN sanctions, which gives them the force of law in this country, and Ottawa went a step further in May 2013, after CBC News revealed how Eritrea’s Toronto-based consulate was orchestrating the so-called tax, sometimes adding in an additional defence fee controversially earmarked for the military.

At the time, Canada expelled Eritrea’s senior diplomat in this country — its consul general — for activities inconsistent with the role of a diplomat, Foreign Minister John Baird said in a carefully worded statement.


It was one of the strictest diplomatic actions taken against Eritrea by any of the several countries where this controversial tax has been exposed, most recently in Australia. And it held out some hope the tax collections might stop.

Yet 10 months later, when Tesfamariam got in touch with an official in the Toronto consulate, it was as if nothing Canada had done really mattered.

As she later wrote to Citizenship and Immigration Canada: “He told [me] that I’ve to pay two per cent tax for the Eritrean government in Eritrea from the date I enter Canada to present, and he also asked me to mail my income tax papers from Revenue Canada to consular office in Toronto for him to calculate the amount I should be paying, and only then I can ask about [passport] renewal.”

She was disgusted. “An embassy or a consulate should be representative of a people and a government,” she said.

“They should be here working for us, not for the government. They don’t care what kind of service they give. They’re just here to collect money for the dictator in Eritrea.”


Photo:  Protection Canadian values in Africa: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai pay their respects at St. Joseph-Olasiti Roman Catholic Church.

Three people were killed and many more wounded last week in a bomb attack during the church’s inaugural mass.

“By the grace of God, it was not more,” said Baird after placing flowers at the graves of the three people killed. “Canada mourns with you and stands in solidarity with Tanzania against forces that would seek to undermine security, pluralism and religious freedom.”


Eritrea: Eritrean Diplomatic Immunity Series 1 Part 3 – Click  – See more at:


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9 Responses to “Eritrea: Diplomat demanded a share of her annual income in Canada”

  1. teamrat

    If you repeat a lie over and over and you will believe it is true. Every monkey With internet Access is writing utter lies to make themselves feel better. That is expected from some Hasawi experiencing inferiority complex. That is what Your bunch is, loosers.

    1. teamrat

      moderation my +++

  2. Oromo

    People pay tribute in Bethelhem. People of ethics get candles to Churches. People of Eritrean origin and of good culture, good manner, brought up by family never bite the hand that feed them!

    Be it on Canada, US, Russia, Twain, Madagascar people have to make a due payment for what ever service they get. What does this lady want to go to Eritrea!! Aha! A Holly land that paid thousands of precious life, and she want to put her leg there without giving coin to this land! That is not your summer roost! Thank you the people of Eritrea for letting you put your leg on that holy land just at the price of 2% that you are boasting!! It is better for the Eritrean people who gave their loved ones without complaining for giving that life and accommodating people of no conciseness like you.

    Kebdi Ade Gura Gura Tebahilu Temesilu Endu!

  3. elias

    Wegahta are realy eritrean who sacrified their own life to servive the generation.Or eritrean who sold their soul for enemies,if you dont pay no body force you,just keep quite.You are disguting ever I have seen,mishmisti

  4. elias

    canada needs a realy revenge,they are doing all the dirty job against eritrean legendary people
    pupet of america,they are trying to do the same as john foster delass who sentenced eritrean people to death.Dont worry we will never kneel down you dirty

  5. Axumite

    @ Aguma B Yadessa
    I hate it when so called proud “Eritreans” try to stand for something when they live the opposite. Aguma, you cannot act like Eritrea is fine when you are living in Georgia with your family. On top of that according to your facebook, your wife graduate from the University of Haromaya in ETHIOPIA! If you love Issaias and you love Eritrea, then go there and support your country and use your countries resources

  6. wedinakfa

    Well the lady who is betraying her country is telling lies to accumulating points so that her application will be viewed in kind; well good luck to you but to put your country people in a bad situation is, I leave it for her consciouse mind to deal with it.

    As the the gutter journalism, say no more the new age journalist are shame to the profession of journalism. JOURNALISM IS DEAD.

    Look at Eygpt, it has put 3 Aljazeera journalist for trial and were sentenced, whether they are guilty or not let the Eygptian people decide but what ever they have done or not for sure journalism is under scrutiy; look in London journalists were hacking dead young girl’s telephon and other celebrities so what I am I think think of Rick MacInnes-Rae is the World Affairs Correspondent for CBC News’ well he might be a long time serving journalist but it is evident he writes gutter journalism, shame on him and shame to the paper who hired him to lie!!!

  7. atta intai iyu guddu

  8. Alem

    My dear Wegahta if I were you I wouldn’t even bother to get passport from the unelected criminal regime (ISAYAS and his criminal enterprise) anyway. It is worthless like the issuer. Be patient till we install our government, elected by Eritreans and representing all Eritreans. Make sure you don’t pay a penny to this criminals they don’t represent Eritrea. With the money they collected for the past 24 years they couldn’t even restore electricity in the capital city let alone building the country (It is stashed on a foreign bank). It will not be too long before the government of Canada and the rest of the world shut down the Eritrean embassies established by the criminal regime and deport the stooges working in there.
    Thank you for being courageous and not getting intimidated by the puppets of the regime.

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