Amnesty International released a report this month cataloging human rights violations by the government of Eritrea. The report states that the government has been using “arbitrary arrest and detention without trial on a vast scale to crush all actual and suspected opposition, to silence government critics, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the restrictions on human rights imposed by the government.” This practice began following the independence of the country in 1991, and is widespread today. Open Doors estimates that about 1,200 people are currently imprisoned in the country because of their religious beliefs, although other organizations say the number is much greater. 191 Christians have been arrested this year alone, and are being kept in harsh prison conditions. Many suffer from poor health. There have been no reports of any of these prisoners being released this year.
Authorities recently arrested 37 Christian students from the College of Arts and Social Sciences, in Adi Kihe. Open Doors believes the students are in the Dekemhare military camp. Five men from the Church of the Living God were also arrested last week.
“If I am to describe the situation of religious persecution in Eritrea, I would say it is still at its highest level ever, and getting worse,” an Eritrean Christian said last week. Conditions in the country appear to be harsher than ever before, and are getting worse.
- The Red Cross, and other organizations are not allowed to work or investigate in the country.
- It appears that none of the religious prisoners have benefited from legal aid or due process.
- Prison records are unavailable.
- Many prisoners have been arrested during national service. When their service period is over, they are moved to military camps where they are forced into hard labor. The family of the prisoners is often aware that they have been incarcerated.
- Often times, when prisoners become too ill and death seems likely, they are placed under house arrest.
Church leaders have asked for prayer for the leaders of their country, strength to continue their pastoral ministries even under severe persecution, endurance to obey the laws of the land as much as is possible without disobeying God, and to wisely and humbly work with the government to change the political and religious laws.
Father in heaven, You are the author of all governments on earth. You bring them to power and You bring them down from power. You have established the leaders of Eritrea, and they are working to accomplish Your plan in that country, no matter what it may look like to us. Fill Your people with Your joy, peace, and love. Empower contentment to fill every nook and cranny of their lives. Give them wisdom, communion, and unity, whether they are in prison or at home, to live as Your people in a hostile land. Give the church leaders the physical and emotional strength to minister to their flock, but also to all those around them. Let the Eritreans see You when they see Your people. Give them wisdom and understanding as they try to live within the laws of the land, and give them favor with the powers that be as they seek to find solutions to the very difficult conditions of their country. Surround Eritrea, and flood it with Your healing light. Let Your kingdom come. Amen.
Source: Open Doors