Eritrea, Africa's 'North Korea'

Thursday, December 13, 2012

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

ASMARA, ERITREA (Worthy News)-- Because of its repressive policies, Eritrea has been dubbed the "North Korea of Africa": currently more than 2,000 Christians are believed to be imprisoned there for their faith.

In fact, Eritrea ranks among the worst abusers of religious freedom judging from the Christians that have been arrested, tortured and even killed within its borders.

Since its independence in 1993, Eritrea has been ruled by President Isaias Afwerki, whose repressive regime closely monitors any activity on its soil that might pose a threat to Afwerki's authority.

To improve his international image, in 2002 Afwerki decided to allow religious groups outside of Eritrea's sanctioned state religions to register with the government so that all worship would be legal; but in order to register, religious groups had to provide detailed information on their membership as well as all of their activities inside Eritrea.

To date, however, no religious group has completed Eritrea's rigorous registration process, so all religious activity outside of its official state approved religions remains illegal; any Christian caught participating in unofficial activities can be arrested and even executed for treason, and any attempt to cross over into Ethiopia is made more hazardous by trigger happy border guards with orders to shoot anyone leaving the country without the government's permission.

Because of these risks, many Christians look to criminals to smuggle them across the border, only to be "sold" to Eritrean security officials who send them straight to jail; some escaping Christians can even find themselves held for ransom by the very same criminals they paid to smuggle them out.

At this rate, the only "unofficial" Christians that will be left in Eritrea will be found its prisons.