07/26/2023 Eritrea (International Christian Concern) – Called “Africa’s North Korea” by some, Eritrea is ruled by an oppressive, totalitarian government that is openly hostile to religion. There are an estimated 400-500 Christian prisoners of faith in the country, none of whom have received a trial or even been charged with a crime. Religious prisoners are often subjected to long or indefinite terms in prisons where they suffer unimaginably inhumane conditions.
ICC recently provided emergency food supplies and audio bibles to persecuted Eritrean believers. While not much can be shared about the dangerous trip made through a courageous partner, interviews with former prisoners were conducted, which revealed harrowing details of the suffering Christians in the country endure.
In one instance, despite the endless torture he faced and separation from other inmates, one pastor disclosed secretly baptizing 50 believers by collecting toilet and shower water in a barrel.
“It’s very tough, especially for Christians,” he said regarding the prison conditions. “Even though they are preventing us [from seeing other prisoners], so many people, even fighters and the prisoners, are receiving Jesus Christ as their personal savior.”
Former inmates at Mai Serwa, a prison in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, have reported being held in shipping containers – each holding 8-22 detainees and extremely susceptible to the extreme weather swings of the desert around them. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR), “Inmates are subjected to total darkness, which increases their suffering. A torture chamber made of concrete is reportedly located at the back of the containers. [One] detainee… was interrogated and tortured four nights per week for two months.”
The Christian Post released an article telling the story of two Eritrea Christians who have now spent 7,000 days (about 19 years) in prison. At the end of the article is a call for action:
Whether you are a Christian or not, I ask all people of goodwill to contact the Eritrean Embassy in Washington, D.C. (or your home country), and respectfully urge the release of Kiflu, Pastor Haile, and so many others who are locked in Eritrean prisons simply because of their religious beliefs.
Here is the contact information for the Eritrean Embassy in Washington, D.C.:
In addition to contacting the embassy, prayer and letter writing are great sources of hope for our persecuted brothers and sisters. Former Eritrean inmates have expressed that while in prison, they were able to feel the prayers that Christians around the world were praying for them, which provided them with strength and hope.
We have also been told that when an inmate receives a letter from somewhere in the world, even if they do not receive it, prison officials become weary of the fact that someone in the world cares about this person. This provides an extra shield of protection for the prisoner and increases their chances of living and being released.