Kesete Tekle Fshazion

Allegations of conscripted labour in Canadian mine: the fifth estate

“The entire time I worked at the Bisha mine, I was not there of my own free will,” he said, in his affidavit filed in October 2015.

“I believed that I could not refuse the assignment to the Bisha mine because if I had refused, the authorities would have detained me and I would have been severely punished.”

“Temperatures there were sometime as high as 47 degrees Celsius,” Tekle said in his affidavit. “The black plastic sheets with which we worked only intensified this heat, and there was no real shade available to us to shelter us from the sun.”

“Many conscripts caught malaria … were also prone to diarrhea and numerous other illnesses as a result of our weakened state and the extremely difficult conditions in which we worked,” he said in the affidavit.

He also said he witnessed conscripts receiving severe forms of punishment for simply leaving the camp overnight.

“What scares me is that some spies may pose as refugees from Eritrea, as they come everyday, and maybe some will come and put our lives at risk,” Tekle said in the affidavit.

At the refugee camp in Ethiopia, Tekle told the fifth estate that he believes that people from the Eritrean government would try to harm or even kill him before he had a chance to testify.

“My wish was to leave [here] before the case began. But now that it has started, I fear for my life.”