Eritrea even persecutes 'official' Christians

Monday, May 5, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

ASMARA, ERITREA (Worthy News)-- Eritrea even persecutes its own officially recognized religions.

Just last week, five Christians about to be ordained in Eritrea's state sanctioned Evangelical Lutheran Church were arrested instead, according to Morning Star News.

The arrests came just after the church announced that the five would be ordained for pastoral ministry. As of press time, authorities in Eritrea were still holding the would-be pastors at Police Station Number 2 in Asmara, according to an Open Doors press statement.

In 2005, Eritrean authorities first began oppressing officially recognized denominations by cracking down on the Eritrean Orthodox Church. But when Patriarch Abune Antonios dared to object, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki had him deposed, placed under house arrest and then replaced with a government official.

"Since then, many thousands of mostly evangelical Christians have suffered severely at the hands of a regime known for its human rights abuses, appalling prison conditions and widespread use of torture," wrote Elizabeth Kendal of the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin.

Kendal wrote that by the end of 2010, religious persecution in Eritrea incarcerated an estimated 3,000 Christians for their faith; many were held without water in shipping containers in desert camps, others in underground cells, according to Kendal.

"The conditions are inhumane: Children and the elderly are amongst the prisoners sharing skin diseases, dysentery and other horrors in confined, unventilated spaces. Torture is routine. Amnesty International has reported on the tortures suffered by Christian prisoners. Several Christians have died in custody and others have perished in the desert trying to escape."