Saturday, February 23, 2008

Eritrean Officials Imprison 35 Members of Underground Church

The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) (http://www.persecution.org) has learned that Eritrean officials imprisoned 35 men, women and children belonging to the underground Faith Missions Church on Christmas Eve 2007. Security agents of the government of Eritrea raided a building in the port city of Massawa, where the members of the underground church were holding a prayer vigil. The imprisoned Christians were placed in Weea Military Training Center, and according to our sources are still held there. Weea is one of the most notorious prisons in the country, where the temperature can reach 120ยบ F. Many prisoners die from the heat and the torture inflicted on them, including a Christian woman, Migsti Haile, who died on September 5, 2007, after being severely tortured for refusing to recant her faith. Reliable sources from inside Eritrea reported to ICC that Christians in the town of Agordat have also been imprisoned, as well as six other Faith Missions members from the small town of Nakfa. Faith Missions is a small Evangelical denomination in Eritrea. It has been in existence in the country since the early 1950s. Besides engaging in evangelistic activities, the church formerly ran orphanages and schools throughout the country. Eritrean officials closed the church in May 2002, forcing it to go underground. Recently, the government of Eritrea has targeted adherents of this denomination with particular severity. ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Darara Gubo, stated, “Officials of the government of Eritrea have continued to deny the fact that they are restricting freedom of religion in the country. In fact, when a US Congressional delegation led by Donald Payne (D-NJ) visited Eritrea in the beginning of January 2008, they were told by government-controlled religious leaders that there was freedom of religion in Eritrea. The irony is that Eritrea is one of the most oppressive regimes in terms of Christian persecution.” In Eritrea, more than 2,000 evangelical Christians alone are imprisoned under inhumane conditions. The country’s ruling party follows a communist ideology and highly restricts freedom of religion. The only recognized churches in the country are the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Evangelical Church. Even members of the recognized Christian churches are not spared persecution. The Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, is under house arrest for resisting government involvement in the church. In addition, Dr. Fistum Ghebrenegus, Dr. Tecleab Menghisteab, Rev. Gebremedhin Gebregiorgis, Merigeta (“Mentor” in the Eritrean Orthodox Church) Ytbarek Berhe, along with other leaders, are also imprisoned. In November 2007, the government of Eritrea expelled 13 Catholic missionaries from the country. Members of the outlawed evangelical churches have been imprisoned or forced to leave the country. Those who remain must worship underground.
Please pray for the Eritrean Christians who are languishing in prison cells.
You can also call the Eritrean Embassy in your country in the US, call
(202)319-1991 or
(202)588-7598
Please politely ask the Eritrean officials to stop mistreating Christians in their country and release all who are imprisoned for their faith in Christ Jesus.

As in the days of Noah...

1 comment:

Dave said...

Huh, I just read they have been released ??

http://wwrn.org/article.php?idd=27811