The government crackdown against believers continues in Eritrea.

By February 23, 2005

Eritrea (MNN)–The latest police sweeps brings the total to 187 arrests for “illegal” Christian activities in Eritrea since the beginning of January.

According to Compass Direct, arrests in the last two weeks landed 31 believers in jail. This is part of a continuing government crackdown against evangelical activity.

Fourteen members of the Kale Hiwot Church in Adi-Tekelzan, 20 miles north of Asmara, were apprehended February 4, during a Bible study at the home of their pastor. A week later, 15 Christian women gathered in a private home for prayer were put under arrest and jailed at the police station in Keren. A professor and a medical doctor were also taken into custody.

Eritrea still denies that any violations of religious freedom are taking place. Individuals and groups caught praying, studying the Bible or worshipping outside the umbrella of the country’s four recognized “official” religions are being targeted.

The Eritrean government closed down the country’s independent Protestant churches in May 2002, declaring their places of worship illegal and forbidding home gatherings.

The banned groups include indigenous Pentecostal and charismatic congregations, as well as Adventist, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God and Methodist-linked churches. Baha’i and Jehovah’s Witness adherents are also targeted severely.

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