03/04/2021 Eritrea (International Christian Concern) – 21 female Christian prisoners, all of whom are young mothers, were freed after spending four years in an Eritrean island prison, reports Christian Today.
“They were arrested in 2017 after a series of raids on underground churches by the Eritrean authorities. Many of their husbands were conscripts, leaving their children without anyone to care for them, human rights group Release International Reports.”
Christian Today also stated that a total of 171 Eritrean Christians have been freed from prison since last August. According to a World Wide report, On February 1st, the government released 64 Christians who had been imprisoned without trial for up to 12 years. On January 27th, six women were released after being arrested for worshipping while walking down a public street four months prior. Earlier in September, the Eritrean government reportedly released 27 Christians on bail.
There is reason to believe that the country is hoping such news will shift international attention away from the atrocities being committed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Eritrean troops are currently being accused of participating in serious human rights violations and violence that may amount to genocide.
“Despite the prisoner releases in Eritrea, these horrific church attacks suggest it’s far too soon to suggest a change of heart towards Christianity,” said Release Internationals CEO Paul Robinson.“The attacks on churches in Tigray are appalling, and Eritrea continues to hold many senior pastors who have been detained indefinitely – some for up to 17 years”.
“Until all are set free and the killing of Christians stops it’s too soon to talk of lasting change,” He continued.
There are an estimated 500 Christian prisoners of faith in Eritrea, a country ruled by a military dictatorship which outlawed every form of religion except Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran Church. When arrested, persecuted Christians often disappear without a trace, leaving their loved ones with no information on their whereabouts or safety. Prison conditions are some of the harshest in the world, with inmates kept in shipping containers and believers often tortured in an attempt to get them to renounce their faith. While we rejoice for the newly found freedom of our sisters in Eritrea, It is of vital importance that we pray for both persecuted Christians living in Eritrea, as well as for the victims of war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.