By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
(Worthy News) - Eritrea has released a further 10 Christians from one of its notorious prison facilities bringing the total to nearly 80 freed believers since September, Worthy News learned.
Christian rights investigators said the Christians were released from the Mai Serwa prison near the capital Asmara this month.
Earlier, at least 69 Christians were freed from the same jail in September and October last year, several sources confirmed.
Authorities did not immediately explain the reasons for the release, added advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).
However, in August, Eritrea announced it was releasing some Pentecostal Christians, among others, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in its overcrowded jails.
Hundreds of Christians remain behind bars, and many are held indefinitely under what rights groups call appalling conditions.
Worthy News learned that several Christian prisoners are kept in shipping containers, where they are exposed to the searing desert heat by day and cold by night. Some are reportedly beaten and tortured to try to force them to renounce their faith in Christ.
Eritrea keeps tight control over religion. In 2002, the Horn of Africa nation outlawed every religion except Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholicism, and the Lutheran Church.
The authorities shut down many Evangelical and Pentecostal churches and kept the patriarch of the Orthodox Church under house arrest since January 2007.
Registered churches also come under tight government control. Christians who worship in unregistered churches are regarded as enemies of the state, according to rights groups.
President Isaias Afwerki views devoted Christians and others as a threat to his power base, critics say. He has governed Eritrea since it became an independent country in 1993. His People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDF) is the only political party.
Presidential elections scheduled for 1997 never happened, and a constitution ratified in the same year was never implemented.