According to a Release International report, soldiers raided a prayer meeting last month held by 23 people, mostly women, in Eritrea’s capital of Asmara. Around the same time, 660 miles southeast in the city of Assab, 12 additional persons were arrested while engaging in a prayer meeting in a home. Both groups were taken to nearby prisons.
Yesterday, April 15th, the Barnabas Fund announced that 22 of the 23 Christians arrested in Asmara were released this past Sunday. It is not yet known why one Christian man was denied his freedom.
“The two raids on prayer meetings dampened hopes that the government was easing its harsh repressive policy against Christians in the country,” stated the Barnabas Fund, acknowledging the 171 Eritrean Christians that had been released from Eritrean prisons since August. While civilians hoped that these releases signaled change in the country, the recent arrests suggest that Eritrea “remains one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution”.
There are an estimated 500 Christian prisoners of faith in Eritrea, a country ruled by a military dictatorship. 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 those released from prison in Eritrea, it is of vital importance that we continue to pray for those who remain in captivity.
SOURCE: International Christian Concern