(Voice Of The Persecuted) Eritrea has been on the hearts of those watching and praying for the persecuted church. One of our advocates has suggested that we shed some light on the atrocities and suffering of the people of Eritrea. And the extreme persecution and torture endured by Christians and other minorities.
“The State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. With its capital at Asmara, it is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The northeastern and eastern parts of Eritrea have an extensive coastline along the Red Sea, across Arabia and Yemen.”
Eritrea has also been called a ‘black hole’ and is compared next to North Korea for it’s media black outs. There is virtually no media presence there. Information comes at great difficulty through the UN and different aid agencies. Very little aid is allowed into the country. Eritrea is a member of the African Union, the United Nations and IGAD, and is an observer in the Arab League.
What we do know:
- September 2001 the government closed down all of the nation’s privately owned print media. Outspoken critics of the government have been arrested and held without trial, according to various international observers, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
- In 2004 the U.S. State Department declared Eritrea a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its record of religious persecution.
- As yet, no national elections have been held since independence. The president, Isaias Afwerki, has been in office since independence in 1993.
- Eritrea is a single-party state in which national legislative elections have been repeatedly postponed.
- According to Human Rights Watch, the government’s human rights record is considered among the worst in the world. Some Western countries, particularly the United States, have in particular accused the Eritrean authorities of arbitrary arrest and detentions, and of detaining an unknown number of people without charge for their political activism.
- Human rights violations are allegedly frequently committed by the government or on behalf of the government.
- Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association are limited.
- Those who practice “unregistered” religions, try to flee the nation, or escape military duty are arrested and put into prison.
- They have a mandatory military service for all between 18 & 45.
- In 2007, the Eritrean government also banned female genital mutilation.
- In its 2014 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked the media environment in Eritrea at the very bottom of a list of 178 countries, just below totalitarian North Korea.
- Eritrea maintains diplomatic ties with a number of other countries, including China, Denmark, Djibouti, Israel, the United States and Yemen. Its relations with Djibouti and Yemen are tense due to territorial disputes over the Doumeira Islands and Hanish Islands, respectively.
The list of atrocities and human rights abuses go on and on. How can a country with diplomatic ties and as member of the UN be allowed to continue to commit atrocities such as holding prisoners in dirty underground storage containers?
One man had the courage to film a documentary about the deplorable conditions in Eritrea, and it will be released soon. He describes the testimony of one who escaped a prison there. The man’s job was to sell kerosene to the other inmates so they could cook. Instead of using the kerosene to prepare meals, they would set themselves on fire just to escape life in the prison. (More) Human Rights Watch & others have documented serious patterns of human rights violations in Eritrea.
These abuses include arbitrary arrest, torture, appalling detention conditions, forced labor, and severe restrictions on freedom of movement, expression, and worship. There are no independent media in Eritrea, and local nongovernmental organizations are prohibited. The Eritrean government uses a vast apparatus of official and secret detention facilities to incarcerate thousands of Eritreans without charge or trial. Many of the prisoners are detained for their political or religious beliefs; others because they tried to evade the indefinite national service or flee the country. (More from Human Rights watch)
Eritreans have suffered from trafficking in the Sinai and other countries enduring rape, burning, & mutilation. The silence from the World is shamefully deafening. Eritrean Christians suffer at groundbreaking levels.
Those fortunate enough to escape tell of horror beyond imagination. Imagine that suicide would be better than living in these conditions. Rights groups are speaking out, but it seems no one is listening. In addition to asking our government to investigate, Eritreans are in dire need of our urgent prayers.
We will be keeping Eritrea in our prayers and our watch list. While trying to shed some light in the darkness.
Pray for those that are in prison in shipping containers and holes in the ground that their faith in Jesus will be strong.
Pray for those in prison that their light will shine to the persecutors.
Pray that the church will continue to grow in Eritrea in the midst of her persecutions.
Pray that the dictator of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki will have a saving experience of Jesus Christ.
Pray that the blood of the martyrs will bring forth much fruit and gospel seed.
Resources: Human Rights Watch, Wikipedia, & EWTN