Crackdown on Christians cast shadow on Eritrea

By December 8, 2009

Eritrea (MNN) — There are unconfirmed reports of a new wave of arrests of Christians in Eritrea over the weekend. 

An organization called "In Chains For Christ" issued a report from sources in Asmara about the December 5 arrests. According to their sources, thirty women were gathered for a prayer meeting. They were members of Faith Mission, an Evangelical Church with a Methodist background.

Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says they are still working to confirm this report. However, it is likely that it occurred. He cited the arrests of over 90 Christians last month from diverse localities. 

There are now over 3,000 Christians in detention in Eritrea. This comes on the heels of raised concerns at the Human Rights Council December 1 over the extent of human rights violations taking place in Eritrea. The Eritrean delegation followed the same line of defense they've been taking since 2002. 

Representatives insisted that there was religious freedom in the country, that human dignity was respected, and that no prisoners of conscience existed. However, Nettleton says the thousands being held for their faith in storage containers in the desert tell a different story. "For the representatives of Eritrea to stand before the UN and say, 'We have religious freedom, we have human rights' — that's a fairy tale."  

It's frustrating to know that little can be done to help the imprisoned Christians. "Not a single one of them has been charged with anything. Not a single one has had a trial. None of them has been allowed a lawyer to represent him or her. Christians basically disappear into the Eritrean prison system." 

Nettleton says it's not hopeless. People are still responding to the Gospel. "The most important thing we can do is simply to pray for our brothers and sisters who are there, because every time they meet together with other believers, they risk disappearing into the prison system."      

Pray that the government will stop the campaign against evangelicals and will allow freedom of religion for all. The Voice of the Martyrs provides assistance and encouragement to persecuted believers in Eritrea. VOM has supported the families of martyred believers through VOM's Family of Martyrs fund. If you would like to learn how to help, we'll connect you here.

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