Quietly but devastatingly, Christians are facing increasing persecution in the East African country of Eritrea. In the first place, since 2002, only Sunni Islam and three christian denominations are acceptable to the Eritrean government. Eritreans affiliated with other denominations are liable to be arrested and detained.
In recent times, things have become so bad that “security officials now go from house to house” to fish out those still believing in, and worshipping the Nazarene according to their conviction, contrary to government’s regulatory instructions. Special Christian events such as bible study and worship services are targeted. According to the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), nearly 100 Christians were detainedin May2017 alone. These included 49 evangelicals who were arrested at a wedding party on May 21. The Premier Christian Radio reported that the number of Eritrean Christians detained in raids so far this year has reached 210.
Being detained in Eritrea is no tea party. The CSW described this latest phase of persecution as" unprecedented in its intensity and rough treatment.” An article written by Emily Fuentes of Open Doors USA for Mission Network News revealed that detained Christians are sometimes locked up in storage containers with very little air ventilation and temperature reaching up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Others are kept at the notoriously harsh prison of Nakura, which was created by Italian colonialists to crush political dissent in the late 19th century. Many of these detained Christians are young mothers, and some are locked up together with their babies. And with little food.
Even though the Eritrean Orthodox Church is among the three denominations officially allowed to operate, the leader of the Church, Patriarch Abune Antonios was unceremoniously removed from office back in January 2006 after he objected to undue government interference in church affairs. Since then, he has remained under house arrest at an undisclosed location, amidst report that he is being chronically poisoned by the incarcerating authorities.
This report is sourced from the Christian Solidarity Worldwide who tries to conclude a sober issue on a cheerful note, viz: "But people are still willing to risk it all for the sake of the Gospel. People are still evangelizing in this country. There are pastors having small groups and churches meet together. So you find the Gospel spreads in spite of all the fear tactics that are taking place from the government."