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Mass arrests in Eritrea concern ministry PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mission Network News   
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 21:23

Mass arrests of Christians in Eritrea are raising concerns for the welfare of the church. 

Glenn Penner with  Voice of the Martyrs Canada notes: "Eritrea is probably the most-closed country in Africa today."

Arrests began in November in Keren, Eilabered, Hagaz, Adi Tekelezan, and Deki Zeru, with additional raids in Dekemhare, Adi Quala, Areza and Mendefera.

By December, "The detention spread northwards, and approximately 100 Christians have been detained, transferred to a military facility,  and some were reportedly severely mistreated. There were even reports that an unspecified number may have died due to  untreated injuries that were sustained while they were in detention." 

Officials were reportedly working off of a list of names provided by informants around the country.

Voice of the Martyrs Canada says Eritrean officials have denied religious persecution but say they want to guard against sects and dangerous outside influences. Authorities continue to insist all of those arrested are behind bars for reasons other than practicing their faith. The government stands behind its 2004 statement that "no groups or persons are persecuted in Eritrea for their beliefs or religion."

Yet, in May 2002, the government banned and closed of all independent churches not operating under the umbrella of the Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic, and Muslim religious structures.

Today, Voice of the Martyrs Canada believes at least 2,000 Eritrean Christians are held without charges in local prisons of military camps and in shipping containers. Officials hope the inhumane circumstances might pressure believers to abandon their faith in Christ.

The Voice of the Martyrs team is trying to encourage believers because  "the Gospel is continuing to go forward," says Penner. "The Eritrean Christians are continuing to start churches and to do evangelistic work, but certainly, they do so at a great risk. Undoubtedly, there are those who are fearing for their lives and fleeing the country, but the Gospel is continuing to go forward."

Pray for the release of imprisoned Christians. Ask God to work in the hearts of Eritrea's leaders.

Posted at Mission Network News on 13 Jan 2009


Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2009 21:26

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