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Sawa Military Training Camp

While worshipping in secret on February 16, police raided a service of the Hallelujah Church in the Eritrean capital of Asmara, taking Pastor Mengse Tweldemedhane and the fifty other evangelicals meeting together into custody. According to a February 23 report from Compass Direct, the thirty-four men and seventeen women were held at the Adi-Abyto military camp for two days. Four elderly women were then released, but Pastor Tweldemedhane was put into an isolated underground cell where he continues to face intense pressure to renounce his faith and return to the Eritrean Orthodox Church. The rest of the evangelicals were transferred to the Sawa Military Training Camp where they remain in custody. Apparently, local officials had decided that the pastor and twenty-three of his church members had not done their compulsory military training. At last report, forty-six of the Christians were being held in metal shipping containers. Five were very ill and being refused any medical care.

There are now at least 347 Protestant Christians in jail for their faith in Eritrea; some for nearly two years. In May 2002, the Eritrean government banned the twelve independent Protestant denominations, closing all of their churches. Only the Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and Muslim faiths are recognized by the state.

Pray for physical and spiritual strength for those being tortured for their faith. Pray that they will be able to withstand the pressure to recant. Pray that international pressure will help in effecting the release of these prisoners of conscience. The feature article of the April edition of The Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter will focus on the persecution facing Christians in Eritrea. To receive your free subscription to Canada's only monthly publication dedicated to the Persecuted Church, click here.

For more information on persecution of Christians in Eritrea, go to our country report.

Country Information


6,147,398 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Tigrinya (50), Tigre (30), Saho (4), Afar (4) Kunama (4), Bilen (3), other (5)

Religion (%)
Islam (47.4), Christianity (48.8), other (3.8)

President Isaias Afworki (1993)

Government type
Presidential republic

Legal system
Mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic religious law

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Operation World

Pray for Eritrea

Ask the Lord to provide imprisoned Eritrean believers a means of escape and a place of safe refuge. Pray for Him to also work deeply in the hearts of the country's governing officials so they will grant His people the freedom to worship Him and glorify His matchless name. Mindful of their own human frailties, may these political leaders realize the need to make Jesus their own personal Saviour and Lord by accepting His gift of eternal salvation.


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Eritrea News

  • Christians Arrested During Prayer Meeting
    Several rusty shipping containers - Photo: VOMC
    Prison officials continue to hold detainees in cramped, unsanitary shipping containers.
    Photo: VOMC

    In mid-March, 29 evangelical Christians were arrested when Eritrean security forces raided a home prayer meeting in Asmara. According to reports, 17 women and 12 men were taken to the Mai Serwa prison

  • Fifteen Christians Rearrested
    Video: Kidane Gebremeskel Gedion
    Click to view video.

    Eritrean authorities recently arrested 15 Christians during a series of raids on their houses in the capital city of Asmara. All 15 believers had been previously imprisoned for their faith – some for up to 16 years.

  • Three Elderly Pastors Arrested
    Georgio Gebreab and Samuel Okbamichael - Photos: Church in Chains
    Georgio Gebreab and Samuel Okbamichael
    Photos: Church in Chains

    Three semi-retired pastors in the Eritrean capital of Asmara were arrested towards the latter part of July. Since they were all over 70 years old, and only occasionally conducted funeral or wedding services, it is unclear why these elde