Eritrea: Government frees 70 Christians imprisoned for years without trial

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - The government of Eritrea has released 70 Christians who had been in prison for between two to twelve years without trial, International Christian Concern reports. However, rights advocates do not believe this action by the military dictatorship signals a change in its abusive stance toward Evangelical Christians.

The Eritrean government freed six women on January 27 and a further 21 women and 43 men were released on February 1, ICC reports. According to ICC, there are an estimated 500 Christians imprisoned for their faith in Eritrea. The county is controlled by a military dictatorship, which only allows Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran Church to be practiced.

Evangelical Christians are persecuted and are frequently disappeared, leaving their families at a complete loss as to what happened to them. Prison conditions are among the most brutal in the world: inmates may be held in shipping containers and are often tortured to force them to denounce their faith, ICC said.

While the recent release of prisoners is welcomed, there is skepticism about the government’s motives. In its report, ICC said: “While we rejoice for the newly found freedom of our brothers and sisters in Eritrea, there is reason to believe that the country is hoping such news will shift international attention away from the atrocities being committed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.”

The Eritrean army is suspected of committing human rights atrocities that may result in genocide, ICC said. “It is of vital importance that we pray for both persecuted Christians living in Eritrea, as well as for the victims of war in Ethiopia Tigray region,” ICC said.