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Voice of the Martyrs responds to ongoing religious persecution in Eritrea.

By December 27, 2004

Eritrea (MNN)–Eritrea wears the dubious distinction of being the third most religiously repressive country in Africa.

This comes as more Christians are being rounded up, held without charges and moved around. There are several church leaders who are thought to be held incommunicado in an inner prison where many of Eritrea’s prominent political prisoners are also believed to be held.

Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says hundreds of believers have been arrested, including young children, simply for having a Bible or attending a house church meeting. “There’s almost a slanderous campaign against the Christians, from a P-R (public relations) standpoint. In the meantime, the government is arresting people, they’re beating people and holding them away from their families.”

Nettleton adds that the government’s actions have not gone unnoticed. The European Parliament passed a resolution condemning human rights abuses in Eritrea related to its persecution of Christians.

The resolution demanded a full investigation into the a November 4th incident in which thousands were detained in an army camp.

A prison wall then either fell or was pushed over by some of the prisoners, killing five guards as it fell. The remaining guards then proceeded to fire at the crowd, killing between 20 and 50 people and injuring scores more.

The resolution also scolded Eritrea for its apparent disregard of international human rights conventions.

The atmosphere makes it extremely difficult for evangelistic work. Nettleton says believers haven’t quit, but they need urgent prayer. “400 Christians imprisoned in Eritrea–for a country the size of Eritrea, for a country that we hear so little about, it’s amazing the level of persecution that’s going on there.”

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