Thursday, October 22, 2015
Eritrea is the "African North Korea", says Christian peer
Wed 21 Oct 2015By Hannah Tooley
A Christian peer has described the east African country of Eritrea as the "African North Korea".
Lord Alton of Liverpool has been speaking as Eritreans continue to make up the second largest group crossing into Europe after Syrian refugees.
He told Premier that the gross and systematic abuse of human rights in Eritrea means that those made to return home risk facing harassment, repression and in some cases death.
The United Nations has recorded widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the country.
Lord Alton together with anti-persecution charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Human Rights Concern Eritrea hosted an event to highlight these issues and said that people are fleeing in their thousands.
He added that Syrians make up the largest number of refugees leaving for Europe, but Eritreans make up the second largest group, leaving at rates of around 5,000 people every month.
That is ten per cent of the entire population leaving each month and thousands of them are dying at sea, said Lord Alton.
He told Premier: "One of the worst aspects of repression in Eritrea is the denial of religious freedom, because the churches are seen to be the only point of contradiction in the society and for that reason, they are ruthlessly repressed."
He added: "Put bluntly - the regime only condones the worship of the regime, and anything else is seen to be undermining of the regime.
"This is classic, it's exactly what's going along in places like North Korea as well.
"They cannot tolerate any point of opposition, and the church is seen to be being in opposition to the regime."
He added that once people make it out of the country they still are not safe: "The practice of kidnapping migrating individuals who're released on ransom after they're enduring horrible torture or being killed, targets Eritreans in particular, so this is not something we should just ignore, this isn't just about people trying to just get a better standard of living - they're leaving one of the most repressive regimes anywhere in the world."
Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Lord Alton of Liverpool here: