Not all of Eritrea marks an anniversary of freedom

By May 22, 2015
(Photo courtesy Wikipedia, Sawa military camp)

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia, Sawa military camp)

Eritrea (MNN) — On Sunday, Eritrea marks 24 years of independence.

For Eritrean Christians, freedom isn’t theirs to celebrate as much if they’re a part of the underground church. While religious persecution in Eritrea is not limited to Christians, the underground Christian church has suffered most.

According to the latest report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the religious freedom situation is particularly serious for Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Greg Musselman is a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs Canada. “Today, you’ve got anywhere between 3000-4000 Christians there that are imprisoned in shipping containers or military camps because of their faith.” He says Eritrea also tolerates torture or other ill-treatment of religious prisoners, random arrests, and detentions without charges, and has a ban on public religious activities. Why? “The government of Eritrea sees evangelical Christianity as ‘western.’ They link it with the CIA, so as a result, they’re clamping down on the evangelicals within the country.”

eritrea_containers3As a result, the USCIRF again recommends in 2015 that Eritrea be designated as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).

Churches in Eritrea have been monitored closely since May 2002, when the government closed all Protestant and Pentecostal churches which did not apply for registration with the department of Religious affairs. For those who do apply, very few are granted the registration papers they need.

With conditions so dismal, some Eritrean Christians have fled to Ethiopia. During his visit last week, Musselman got a chance to hear a refugee’s story. The summation wasn’t what he expected to hear. “One fellow that we met has been in refugee camp (in Ethiopia) for 11 years. He’s actually chosen to stay there. He has ministry there within the refugee camp.” Because of their boldness, Musselman says, “They are actually seeing many people come to know Jesus that have come from religious backgrounds–Muslim [and] Orthodox–and into a personal relationship with Jesus.”

(Image courtesy Wikipedia)

(Image courtesy Wikipedia)

For those Eritrean Christians who have managed to escape and share their stories, Musselman says their lives inspire. “For those that are in the country, pray that the Lord will give them strength and that they will not be fearful.” Ask God to further the Gospel in this very young African nation. “Be praying for strength for our brothers and sisters in Eritrea, in the midst of difficult situations. There are those that are in shipping containers and military camps. Their families are divided, physically, because of the persecution. [Pray] that they would be strong in their time in prison.”

Here’s what Independence Day boils down to for Eritrea’s followers of Christ: 2 Timothy 2:8-10:

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s Word is not chained. Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.


  • RealEritrean says:

    Happy Independence day deki Eri!!

    Awet na hafash!
    Wudket ne fesh fash!

  • j.karanja w. says:

    One thing I know Jesus is coming very very soon.i pray for strength for the Christians jailed in containers.may God grant them peace and the revival coming change the hearts of the leaders.Amen.

  • The current affair in eritrea nothing to be proud of..i hope the real independancey free from this slavery regim killing machine coward be relised soon.

  • Your Name says:

    the indepedece day is not a poletical parts day ,rather it is the day of all eritrean peaple and it has costed many many youngesters who paid their preciese life – and we didnt see a country that does not celebrate its indepence day because there is not democratic goverment,therefore we the people of eritrea celelbrate the independence day and work to have a democratic goverment.awet nikulu hizbi eritrea , zikri niharbegnatat siwuat,

  • Daniel A says:

    The past quarter of a decade under a repressive regime is the most brutal governance in the history of our Eritrean society. If we are honest about our situation it is time to mourn for the loss of freedom of movement, work, education, press, expression, religion…etc. Eritrea has become an eyesore for the entire African continent full of empty pride and misery, repent forgive reconcile and set free the innocent captives.

  • Yohannes says:

    Well it is true Jesus will come soon at that time we all will get Independence however right now the current situations in Eritrea is unbearable, the leader of the country become responsible for a lot of Eritreans death, he should retired or run away from the country and let the new generation of Eritreans led the country, but unless this mad man is dead we will never get peace in our country

  • Ghebar says:

    There is no independence in Eritrea. Home grown tyrants are misusing virtually every thing with out public approval at all. There is no any law or right which public can invoke. Eritrean are leaving their country. This tiny Nation with great location and weather is worlds highest refuge contributor. Eritrean resources used without any accountability and public approval. Eritrean are arrested without any official charge and never seen after their arrest. Is this Independence? Eritrea is a jungle where it can’t protect it’s habitat.

  • A people fight for thirty years against injustice for liberation, peace and prosperity, but they independence is hijacked by a brutal dictator. The country is under total control of one person with no freedom of movement, specch, association, learning. There are no organizations let alone political parties or parliament. The youth are condemned to eternal slavery where they work day and night for a stipend of 11 USD. Can this be called independence. What amazes me is the behavior of some PFDJ thugs when I see them dancing and singing when their fellow countrymen are dying in masse in the mediterranean and their leaders rotting in underground prisons. Can we call them dumb puppets or ignorant citizens. Most of these people are those living abroad and having a luxurious life. So, they want the status quo to continue. ZEYSBIKA XEXER QORTIMELU!! TEBAHILU ENDYU!!

  • Eritrea says:

    Happy Bithday to our Sweet Motherland Eritrea!

  • Your Name says:

    nothing to celebrate in Eritrea b/s of PFDJ

  • Guest says:

    I disagree with you, Eritrean nationals have free eduction and free health care to all. Very expensive, but free in Eritrea.

  • john says:

    yes its true Eritrea got its independence before 24 years…but yet Freedom has not reached out. there is no Freedom in Eritrea. people are not living in comfort.

  • Helen says:

    Happy Birthday to Eritrea!

  • Your Name says:

    Happy Birthday to Eritrea and to all Eritreans who appreciate freedom.

  • Helen says:

    Comfort does not come for free you have to work hard.

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