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Eritrean authorities are punishing 39 high school students for their Christian faith, excluding them from a graduation ceremony and subjecting them to beatings and hard labour. After completing a four-month military training required in Eritrea, the students (including 11 girls) have been arrested for their "Christian beliefs and for their commitment to Christ."

According to a recent press statement, "The youths are now enduring beatings, forced hard labour and insufficient food and water" at the SAWA military training centre. Sources add that "authorities are also threatening the students with long imprisonment and exclusion from university should they 'fail to renounce Christ.'"

The Marxist-leaning architect of repression of religion and free speech in Eritrea, President Isaias Afewerki, has been in power since Eritrea's separation from Ethiopia in 1991; the National Assembly elected him as president in 1993. An estimated 3,000 mostly Protestant Christians were incarcerated for their faith by the end of 2010. (It is estimated that the figure is now about 1,200.)

The prisoners are held in shipping containers in desert camps, with some kept in underground cells. "The conditions are inhumane: Children and the elderly are amongst the prisoners sharing skin diseases, dysentery and other horrors in confined, unventilated spaces," reports Elizabeth Kendal of the Religious Liberty Commission. "Torture is routine.... Several Christians have died in custody, and others have perished in the desert trying to escape."

As mentioned in a previous alert, the Eritrean military has reportedly made a business of Christian refugees, kidnapping them out of refugee camps in Sudan and selling them to traffickers in Egypt's Sinai. There they are sold to Bedouin gangs who ransom them for tens of thousands of dollars...electrocuting, raping, starving and murdering the Christians as they threaten their relatives. For a previous report on this serious situation, click here.

May the God of justice swiftly come to the defense and rescue of these victimized believers who desperately need His intervention. According to Romans 12:19, such cruel and inhumane treatment of His people will not be taken lightly, for His Word states that vengeance is His...He will repay. Pray that He will not only safely deliver these Christians from bondage and suffering but that He would also make the reality of His presence and conviction known to those who are instigating and inflicting the various acts of persecution, before it's too late.

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
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)

Leader
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

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  • 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

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  • Recently Arrested Christian Prisoners Released
    Nakura prison - Photo: Church in Chains https://www.churchinchains.ie/
    Nakura prison
    Photo: Church in Chains

    Earlier this month, it was reported that 23 women had been arrested at a prayer meeting in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, along with 12 others in the city of Assab. (To review a previously posted report, go to our country report, where there is also a link to

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