A group of 141 Christians in Eritrea was detained for holding a private meeting before the country’s Independence Day celebration. Rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said 14 minors were included in the arrest in the Maitemenai district of Asmara, on or around May 10. About 50 of them were released, reports Pakistan Christian Post.
Christians are seen as a threat to President Isaias Afwerki and his allies. Afwerki is accused of leading a brutal regime and committing massive human rights violations. This, following reports of government security forces raiding houses and imprisoning Christians in inhumane conditions.
Eritrea is like a giant prison. The country is filled with jails, concentration camps and prisons. —Rev. Dr. Berhane Asmelash, Director of Release Eritrea
Open Doors ranked Eritrea as the 7th worst country to be a Christian in its annual World Watch List. The Christian aid group said, “Individuals from non-traditional church groups, such as evangelicals, face the harshest persecution forms of Christian persecution.”
Named ‘the North Korea of Africa,’ Eritrea has treated Christians harshly for years. According to Christian persecution watchdog, Release International, one in 12 Christians fled the country. Tens of thousands have chosen to risk their lives to escape to neighboring Sudan and Ethiopia while hundreds more have been jailed illegally for practicing their faith. Those who were able to seek solace overseas treat refugee camps as their new homes.
Dawit, a Christian who was once imprisoned for his faith, said, “In Eritrea almost every Christian faces imprisonment. That’s why I was in prison, first for one month, then I was sent to a labor camp, where I had to work without payment. I was also detained for two weeks, when I was tortured.”
Another former prisoner, Rev. Dr. Berhane Asmelash, Director of Release Eritrea, revealed that, to torture Christians, some of them are hanged from trees to look like a crucifix.
“Eritrea is like a giant prison. The country is filled with jails, concentration camps and prisons. And it is like North Korea, but in Africa.” He added that, “Thousands of Eritreans are perishing in the Mediterranean Sea, trying to flee from the government.”
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said the group is concerned with the crackdown on Christians in Eritrea. He urged the Human Rights Council, where Eritrea is a member, “to assist in advancing accountability for atrocity crimes” in the African country.