Eritrea persecutes evangelicals
Amnesty International has called for action to secure the protection of a Protestant pastor and 10 churchgoers in Eritrea. 35-year-old Leul Gebreab who pastors the evangelical Apostolic Church was arrested in the Eritrean capital, Asmara on 12 August. To date, there has been no news of his whereabouts.
In a separate incident on 19 August, 10 men and women – who are members of the Full Gospel Church, a long-established evangelical church in Asmara – were arrested while worshipping privately in a home in the city, following the closure of their church by the authorities. They are believed to be detained incommunicado without charge or trial in the Karchele security prison, together with dozens of other pastors and members of banned evangelical churches.
Religious persecution in Eritrea has been widespread and harsh for several years. In 2002, the country’s government ordered all unregistered religions to close their places of worship until they were registered. Only Islam and the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Christian churches have been officially recognised since May 2002.
Members of evangelical churches have been subjected to arrest, torture and coercion by the security forces to try and force them to deny their faith. Reports indicate that there are more than 2000 Christians currently being detained, without charge or access to legal redress. Many of them are held in remote army camps.