Three elderly believers released in Eritrea

By March 26, 2009

Eritrea (MNN) — Thousands of Eritrean believers are
languishing in military prisons, in labor camps, and in shipping containers in
the open desert.

Carl Moeller with Open Doors reports a spot of good news: "Two elderly members of the Kale Hiwot
church, who were arrested last November and held at a military concentration
camp, have been released, apparently on bail.
In addition to that, we also learned that another gentleman, Solomon
Mengese, was released." 

Their detentions were linked to Christian activities. Though
the government denies religious persecution, Open Doors notes a heavy
concentration of arrests and detainment of Bible-believing Christians.

The Kale Hiwot members were men in their 80s, arrested in
November, and jailed in Mitire-camp. The
camp is a military concentration camp in northeastern Eritrea. Moeller says that the area is believed to be where many Christians are being held.

Mengese is a Full Gospel Church member and gas station owner
who was imprisoned for six months in Asmara's Police Station number 2. He was released two weeks ago.

Meanwhile reliable sources in Eritrea confirmed the number
of Christian prisoners in Wi'a Military Training Centre. According to Open Doors, among the 2,900 believers imprisoned, there are 270 Evangelical Christians–including 135 women–kept at Wi'a.

Their sources say the prisoners are facing miserable
circumstances as they refuse to deny their faith.

According to the sources, Wi'a Military Training Centre also
holds 27 Muslim prisoners who were arrested in Assab for opposing the
government-appointed Mufti. They have been in the centre for one year and six
months and are mostly kept underground, separate from other religious and
military prisoners.

Open Doors' sources were also able to confirm that the number of
Evangelical Christians kept at Massawa Police station is 50, including 15
women. According to these sources, the relatives and friends of the prisoners
may bring them food once a day, but they are not allowed to see the prisoners.

Eritrea banned all independent Protestant churches in 2002.
Only Islam and the Eritrean Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Christian
denominations were given official recognition. Buildings of all other churches
were closed, and private gatherings in homes were banned. Worshippers caught
disobeying these restrictions have faced arrest and torture in prison camps
notorious for their horrific circumstances.

Moeller asks believers to "pray that the church in Eritrea will
continues to stand strong in the midst of this. We need to pray for those
imprisoned, that they would know that they are not forgotten. And third,
we need to pray that the denominations that have been sanctioned by the
government would speak out on behalf of those who have been imprisoned."

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