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Eritrea governor detains 11 Christians in undisclosed locations
A governor in Eritrea ordered a harsh crackdown on Christians in his area, resulting in the detention of 11 of them, in undisclosed locations.
Governor Mustafa Nurhussein of the Southern zone of Eritrea ordered the arrest of the 11 unnamed Christians from Dibarwa, Mendefera and Dekemharre last Oct. 20, further burdening a Christian population that has long been intimidated and victimized, Mission News Network said.
Police also confiscated video players, TVs and other electronic equipment that belonged to the 11 Christians, most of whom are from the Full Gospel Church, a group that was banned in 2002, according to MNN.
Jonathan Racho, International Christian Concern’s regional head of Africa said, “We are saddened to hear about the detention of the 11 Christians. Eritrean officials have continued to mistreat Christians in the country for choosing to practice their faith. We ask Eritrea to immediately release the 11 Christians and the more than 3,000 others who are illegally detained,” BosNewsLife reported.
A government-supported statement from Eritrea in 2003 stated that “no groups or persons are persecuted in Eritrea for their beliefs or religion.”
The actual number and names of detained Christians is hard to obtain. MNN said usually the details of arrests are only learned when a missing Christian has become ill while in prison.
Medical treatment is only given to Christian detainees if they have malaria or other specific illnesses. A number of evangelicals have died while in prison—which can usually be shipping containers, underground dungeons or barracks—either from torture or harsh conditions, BosNewsLife said.
Although Eritrean officials have not commented on the 11arrested, in the past, regarding similar cases, they have said they wish to protect Eritrea from foreign-inspired “dangerous sects,” BosNewsLife said.
Four religious groups are recognized by Eritrea, namely the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea and Islam, according to BosNewsLife.
Despite this, in May 2007, the patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios was placed under house arrest, where he remains today, according to BosNewsLife.
Last year, the government called on citizens to report of Christian gatherings in their neighborhoods, which the government said is illegal and punishable by law, BosNewsLife reported.