by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Thirty-five Christians were arrested and detained in Eritrea after government forces raided two prayer meetings at separate locations last month, International Christian Concern reports. Thirteen of those arrested were still imprisoned as of April 17.
One of the raids was on a prayer meeting in the Eritrean capital of Asmar; twenty-three people, most of whom were women, were arrested here, ICC reports. A further 12 people were arrested at a prayer meeting in the city of Assab, 660 miles from Asmar. All those detained were taken to local prisons. On April 15 the Barnabas Fund reported that 22 of those arrested in Asmara had been released. It was not known why the remaining Christian man in Asmara was still in prison, ICC said.
In a statement about the two incidents, Barnabas said: “The two raids on prayer meetings dampened hopes that the government was easing its harsh repressive policy against Christians in the country.” Although Eritrea is controlled by a military dictatorship, there had been hope of a change in policy in regard to persecuting Christians: 171 Eritrean believers have been released since August, ICC said.
According to ICC, there are around 500 Christians who are currently in prison in Eritrea because of their faith. “When arrested, persecuted Christians often disappear without a trace, leaving their loved ones with no information on their whereabouts or safety,” ICC said in its report. “Prison conditions are some of the harshest in the world, with inmates kept in shipping containers and believers often tortured in an attempt to get them to renounce their faith.”
In a call to remember Eritrean Christians in prisons ICC said: “While we rejoice for the newly found freedom of those released from prison in Eritrea, it is of vital importance that we continue to pray for those who remain in captivity.”