150 Christians arrested in Eritrea

Closed Catholic Hospital in Eritrea.

Originally published in Ind Christian News

The government of Eritrea has arrested 150 Christians in the last three months, while dragging others before courts and asking them to “renounce Christ.” The first 70 were seized on June 23 in Keren. Almost two months later, on 18 August, 80 more Christians were taken into custody in Godayef. The group arrested in June are being held in prison in Ashufera.

The ‘prison’ is a network of underground tunnels that the prisoners are forced to extend, by digging, whenever more people are brought in, according to the Italian online publication Tempi.

Those arrested are all members of the Faith Mission Church of Christ, the last church to have been left open in the city of Keren. The 60-year-old congregation had asked for official registration in 2002, but they never received any response from Eritrea’s government. After the arrest of 70 of its worshippers, the church school was also closed down.

Besides those who have been arrested for their faith, many more have been asked – before a judge – to renounce their faith, more specifically, to “renounce Christ.”

On August 16, six Christian government employees were taken to court and asked to give up their faith. After replying that they were not willing to, they were set free, as they await a verdict.

Twenty-one Catholic-run hospitals and clinics have been closed down, the last on 8 July of this year. All of them offered free healthcare to more than 170 thousand people a year. It took a month to ransack and close down all the hospitals which were mostly in rural areas.

A law dating back to 1995 says that only the government can provide social assistance, and therefore run healthcare facilities. But no services have been provided to replaced those that have been closed.

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