Monday, August 01, 2011

ERITREA – Mass arrests of Christians continue

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Eritrean officials have arrested 90 Christians since May – and more than a quarter of them are college students, according to Release partners.

According to fresh, more detailed reports from Release Eritrea, the authorities detained 64 believers in Adi Abeyto, a village near the capital, Asmara, in May. Only six have since been released – and the rest are thought to be detained at a police station in Asmara or in the notorious Mitire military prison.

Last month, 26 students from Mai-Mefhi College of Technology, south-west of Asmara, were arrested – and, at the time of writing, they were apparently still detained at an unknown location. Release Eritrea sources suggest that some of the students may also have been transferred to Mitire Prison.

Mitire is a remote military prison, located between the town of Nakfa and the coast, where 'torture and extremely harsh treatment are rife', according to Release Eritrea. Of the 12 Christian detainees known to have died in Eritrea since 2002, three were at Mitire.

The precise motives for these latest detentions are unclear. Sources point out that previously college students have been arrested for refusing to take part in Independence Day celebrations. In 2006, a group of students detained for this reason were jailed for up to four years, then expelled from college and drafted into the army, reports Release Eritrea.

Scores of Christians were reportedly arrested in the first few weeks of this year in Asmara and in Nakfa (Prayer Alert, January 20, 2011).

In 2002, the Eritrean Government announced it would recognise only four religious communities: the Orthodox Church of Eritrea, Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran-affiliated Evangelical Church of Eritrea. About 1,500 Christians are believed to be detained for their faith in Eritrea.

(Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Freeeritrea.com; Release Eritrea)

• Pray for the immediate release of the 90 Christians detained in Eritrea since May – and of all believers imprisoned for their faith.
• Pray for President Isaias Afewerki and his government ministers, who continue to deny categorically that there is any religious persecution in their nation. Pray that they will end the current crackdown on Christians – and bow to international pressure to allow greater religious freedom.

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