Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Eritrean Christians die in military camp

Shipping containers like these are frequently used
to imprison evangelical Christians.
Two Christians in Eritrea, whose arrest and torture were widely ignored, have died in military camp, reports Mission Network News.

Hiwet Tesfu, 23, and Zemame Mehari, 27, were arrested in April 2009 for attending a prayer meeting in Dekemhare. They were in ill health, repeatedly tortured and denied medical treatment in their two years and three months serving time.

The Eritrean government says it does not have any religious prisoners in custody. Open Doors USA’s CEO, Carl Moeller, says this claim is based on the country’s stance on religious organizations.

“They don't recognize these evangelical or Pentecostal sects as ‘religious' institutions or organizations; therefore, when they arrest them, it's for holding illegal activities or illegal meetings,” says Moeller. “So, when they're held, they're not holding ‘religious' prisoners: they're holding ‘social' and ‘political' prisoners.”

In 2002, the Eritrean government began a crackdown on all Christians. It is reported that thousands of Christians have and do face inhumane prison conditions and gross neglect.

Hiwet and Zemame are the most recent in a string of 18 Christians known to have died while serving time for their witness in Eritrea. Few believers have actually been charged, but remain in prison nonetheless.

While one would think such circumstances would lead to a halt of the gospel’s spread, Moeller says the opposite is true: “When they see Christians willing to go to prison, willing to die, willing to be tortured for this religion, it creates an undeniable thirst for understanding what that faith is about.”

The full article can be found here.

Pray for Christians in Eritrea!
  • Pray the Christians in jail will remain strong in their faith and will find encouragement in the Saviour for whom they suffer.
  • Pray the families of those imprisoned would continue to trust God to provide all their needs.
  • Pray those who imprison Christians for their faith would see the freedom believers have in Christ, though they are physically bound in chains.

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