According to open doors : last week another Eritrean Christian has died while in detention in Eritrea.
This report follows several others in recent months. Sources reporting
the death indicated about 45 other believers are held in horrendous
circumstances in dungeon-like cells at Ala. They are enduring severe
military punishment because they are unwilling to stop their Protestant
Open Doors also received reports that indicate the government's
continuation of an extensive arrest campaign against Christians started
at the beginning of the year. This month, the government conducted
sweeping arrests of 125 Christians in Barentu.
Of the most recently reported death, Belay Gebrezgi Tekabo, whose age is
unknown, died at Ala Military Camp about 20 miles from the southern
Eritrean town of Dekemhare. He was arrested last April in the military
training camp for "praying and reading his Bible."
Belay endured severe military punishment during his incarceration for
his continued religious activities. He was diagnosed with leukemia six
months prior to his death, but officials told him he could only go to
the Dekemhare hospital for treatment if he was willing to sign a
On Saturday, March 16, police officers arrested 17 Christians in Keren
while they were together at the home of one of those arrested. The group
included six female students. They are kept at the Keren Police
Station. Although it is customary for family members to take food to
relatives in prisons, officers are not allowing anyone to visit this
In 2002, the Eritrean government banned all Christian denominations
except the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Roman Catholicism, and Evangelical
Lutheranism. With the exception of Sunni Islam, all other religious
practice was banned.
The government also decreed that non-registered groups could not gather
in numbers of more than five. No new churches have been registered since
2002. Security forces continue to disrupt private worship, conduct mass
arrests at prayer meetings and other gatherings, and detain those
arrested for indefinite periods without charge.
At last estimates, at least 3,000 Christians are imprisoned in Eritrea,
and say Voice of the Martyrs sources: nearly every evangelical has been
arrested at least once. Most are never formally charged and never
receive a court hearing. Prisoners are tortured and subjected to
extremely poor living conditions, often locked in metal shipping
containers or underground bunkers. Several have died in custody.