1,918 religious prisoners held in Eritrea, facing torture and forced labor.

By September 12, 2006

Eritrea (MNN) — New statistics, recently smuggled out of the East African nation of Eritrea, indicate that at least 1,918 Eritrean citizens are in prison, some being subjected to torture and/or forced labor, because of their religious beliefs.

Christians make up 95 percent of these religious prisoners. The Wongel Mermera investigation center in Asmara is holding a total of 35 pastors, priests and church elders with the remaining 1,758 evangelical Protestants and Orthodox believers imprisoned in 14 other towns and cities.

According to Compass Direct News, compiled reports indicate as many as one quarter of those jailed have been held for two years or more. None of the religious prisoners have gone before a court to be charged or tried. Records from the London-based Release Eritrea organization shows that 29 of these prisoners were arrested in August in the cities of Asmara, Keren and Massawa.

Reports are circulating in Asmara that the government plans to shut down the Anglican Elementary School. Despite ongoing arrests and surveillance, local evangelicals said they were “continuing to meet for worship, prayer and Bible studies” in their homes.

Pray for encouragement and strength for these suffering Christians.

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