Thursday, May 29, 2014

Over 1000 Christians remain imprisoned as Eritrea turns 21

By: Gabriel Ruiz
Thursday, 29 May 2014, 15:14 (EST)
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Over 1000 Christians remain imprisoned as Eritrea turns 21

Senior Eritrean religious leaders in black and red garments holding crosses at the 20th year anniversary of Eritrea's independence, Volunteer Park, Seattle, Washington.

(Wonderlane via Flickr)
As the state of Eritrea celebrated its 21st birthday on May 24, the country's Independence Day, more than 1000 Christians are reported to continue to be held in detention.

According to Release Eritrea, persecution of Christians from 'unregistered churches' continues despite the country officially being called a secular that allows all its citizens to freely practice faith.

Underground churches have said that over 1000 Christians are imprisoned for periods ranging from a few months to over 10 years.

"Our church leaders who were taken to prison in 2003 to 2004 have been detained for over 10 years now," an underground church leader revealed, according to Asmarino. "Many continue to suffer health problems, although we praise God when we hear reports of their resolute faith and good spirit."

"We trust God to safeguard them, but times are tough for their families, their elderly parents are dying and the young children they left behind are now coming of age fatherless" he continued.

Dr Berhane Asmelash, Director of Release Eritrea stated: "It is hard to comprehend why the Eritrean government is persecuting Christians. This is so barbaric and unacceptable to keep innocent citizens in dungeons for over ten years, and should be strongly condemned by all justice and peace loving people. Please pray for prisoners as well as for the underground church workers."

In May 2002, the government of Eritrea banned all religious groups except Islam, and the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches, while enforcing requirements on minority religions to register and hand over information regarding members and finances, according to Amnesty International.

Since then all other churches that have refused to comply have been shut down in government crackdowns. Members and followers were then subjected to harassment, imprisonment and torture.

According to World Watch Monitor, the Eritrean regime under President Isaias Afewerki today does not tolerate dissent of any kind. His party, the People’s Front for Freedom and Democracy party, has reportedly not held a party conference for years.

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