10 Christians arrested in Eritrea ahead of vigil for dead prisoners
Ten Christians have been arrested in Eritrea ahead of a protest vigil in the name of Christian prisoners who died in captivity in the Horn of Africa nation.
According to Open Doors USA, no charges have been pressed against the group, which includes four women and six men. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) says 25 Christian prisoners have died at the hands of government persecution in Eritrea since 2005.
The group of ten was arrested last Tuesday in Ginda, roughly 30 miles northeast of the Eritrean capital Asmara. They’re currently being held at Ginda Police Station, although reports suggest no charges have been pressed at this stage.
Eritrea is widely criticised by the international community for its treatment of Christian prisoners. Various cases of prisoners being locked in shipping containers have been reported over the last ten years.
In 2008, eight Christian high school students were locked in containers after they objected to burning bibles. Similar reports are commonplace from the Horn of Africa nation, which is ranked as one of the world’s worst countries for Christian persecution.
25 dead since 2005
At last 25 Christians have died during or shortly after being detained by the Eritrean government since 2005. The arrests last Tuesday came ahead of a protest vigil held on Thursday outside the Eritrean embassy in London in honour of those who have died.
The event also marked the 15th anniversary of a persecution campaign orchestrated by the Eritrean government against the country’s Christian community. In 2002, the government outlawed all practices outside of Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox denominations of Christianity. There were also restrictions placed on the Muslim faith with all practices outside of Sunni Islam outlawed by the same policy.
Eritrea’s Christian population is estimated to be roughly 47% of the entire country with the remaining majority being Muslim. In January 2009, the government arrested 60 influential Muslim figures, branding them as “radical Islamists”. Less than half were confirmed to be released after their arrest.
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