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Eritrea: Christians Continue to Face Persecution

Monday, June 10, 2013 (12:50 am)
Posted in: Christian Persecution, Christian Persecution - Africa, Eritrea

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

eritrea-mapASMARA, ERITREA (Worthy News)– Religious persecution in Eritrea is at its highest ever and getting even worse, according to World Watch Monitor, the news outlet of Open Doors, a Christian charity that ranked Eritrea 10th on its World Watch List.

This year alone, 191 Christians have already been arrested in the African country as Eritrea lives up to its epithet: "the North Korea of Africa".

After 2002, Eritrea only recognized several state-sanctioned religions, such as Sunni Islam; this has allowed the government of President Isaias Afewerki to incarcerate up to 3,000 Christians for both political and religious reasons, according to Ecumenical News.

"Any religion that is not willing to come under the control of the government is being persecuted," said Selem Kidane, the director of Release Eritrea, a UK-based human rights organization. "It's not just confined to Christians. But in terms of being completely banned, it's the minority churches that have suffered the most …"

Amnesty International reported in May that there is still "rampant repression" in the country 20 years after it became independent from Ethiopia.

"The government has systematically used arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition, to silence all dissent, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the repressive restrictions it places on people's lives," said Claire Beston, a researcher for Amnesty International.

People caught trying to illegally leave Eritrea are detained and held in horrible conditions; many are kept in metal shipping containers without ventilation, according to Voice of the Martyrs.

Christians trying to escape from Eritrea are often kidnapped by human traffickers; if their ransoms aren't paid, they are sold to other criminal groups that in turn ransom them again.

The chairman of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance, Tewelde Gebresilase, said human trafficking has proved to be a lucrative business for Bedouins and local Eritrean officials who are bribed to facilitate the trade.

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  • Joe DeCaro

    There are only a few officially sanctioned Christian denominations in Eritrea, and as Selem Kidane said: "it's the minority churches that have suffered the most …"

    Otherwise, how did Eritrea ever earn the title of "the North Korea of Africa"?

    • Joe DeCaro

      There are only three Christian denominations sanctioned by the state of Eritrea: Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran, and if you have a question for Kidane, ask her yourself.

      • Joe DeCaro

        If everyone is so happy serving in Eritrea's military, why is conscription compulsory?

        • Joe DeCaro

          But no one is as desperately trying to escape from Norway or Israel as they are from Eritrea.
          Maybe it's because of foul-mouthed Eritreans like you?

  • truth just

    HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE [FIGURE 95% OF THE CHRISTIANS IN ERITREA ARE ORTHODOX? HAS THERE BEEN A STATISTICS ON HOW MANY BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS THERE ARE IN ERITREA NOW? WHAT ABOUT THE RATE OF CONVERSION FROM ORTHODOX CHURCH TO BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANITY? YOUR REPLY ISN'T BASED ON FACTS

    • Joe DeCaro

      Does Eritea, arguably the most secluded and secretive nation in the world, have a ministry of tourism?

      • Joe DeCaro

        I have never seen a single ad for Eritean tourism.
        Why would anyone want to go to Eritrea when many Eritreans are risking their lives to escape their own country?

        • Joe DeCaro

          Does Eritrea even have different channels, much less a TV station?

          • Joe DeCaro

            Outside of Eritrea, there is no demand for any of its state controlled TV propaganda.

          • Joe DeCaro

            More propaganda from your Ministry of (mis)Information?
            Eri TV is owned by the state.

          • Joe DeCaro

            Except for expatriates who have escaped Eritrea, why would anyone want to watch state-owned and operated Eri-TV propaganda when there are so many better things to watch on satellite?

          • truth just

            There you go, your good reference is Eri-TV? The Big lying propaganda machine. I won't blame you, I can only feel sorry for you. You are an ignorant fool. People in Eritrea have long understood the big joke Eri-TV, but the few ignorant bastards who live abroad they visit Eritrea after a few years, rent a car, go to Massawa, night clubs and it is all happy and nice …
            If it was all hanky-dorey why is everyone fleeing Eritrea, including your stupid self? If it good for you back home, why the heck are you living in a foreign country

    • truth just

      Please read carefully before you even think of writing a reply, it is better that way.
      1. I am Eritrean who lived in Eritrea all my life, if there is one thing that disgusts me, it is people like you who try to lecture me about my home.
      2. I haven't given statistics on the conversion rate, but since I am Eritrean it is what I see always happening, and I read an incorrect sentence I wrote back.
      3. Are Christians persecuted in Eritrea ….. YES they are, I have my personal friends in jail.

      • gerie

        You may have lived all your life in Eritrea, may also have your friend in jail. I have no reason to doubt your sincerity, but for you to suggest that Christians are persecuted in eritrea is factually inaccurate and disingenuous. There is something you are not telling us other than he being a christian.

        • truth just

          You have no idea what is happening in Eritrea do you?

        • truth just

          Well thank you for not doubting my sincerity, now I have seen very young girls rounded up in their homes because they were praying and singing together alone and their neighbors informed on them. In jail they were told to abandon their beliefs. They were not charged for any crime.

        • truth just

          Well may be young girls are praying together and also planning a coup to over-throw the dictator. How about that? Is that what is in your mind?

        • truth just

          Please go to Eritrea and stay for a few months, you will find it life-changing – you will learn a lot. The way I see it, your knowledge of Eritrea is limited by the government propaganda you are constantly fed. "My friend buying/stealing goods?", you are cheap and delusional Ben. I thought I was talking with a person of knowledge and reason.

          • truth just

            For a four-month stay only, you talk a lot of non sense man, it is true what they say, an empty can does make a lot of noise and little knowledge is dangerous, … that tells it all. Where did
            you get your info? Eri-TV? I can't stop laughing now. Learn to shut the heck up and read to know a little more instead
            of arguing with people who have lived in Eritrea for 30 years. I rest
            my case though.
            But read the comment I wrote on the top, you might learn a thing or two they won't show you on Eri-TV.

            I bet you can blabber as much about the rest of the countries you mentioned, what a nutter.

      • truth just

        What kind of proof do you want?

        I will try to ask permission from the government of Eritrea to go to the jails in Mai Sirwa or 6y brigade and take some photos and send you some. Obviously you are not in Eritrea and are one of the blind supporters of the government. We have a good saying in tigrinya "felitu zitsememe, ente tsewaekayo neysemie".

  • gerie

    Rent a quote Joe Decaro, atleast do research before intelectually masturbating, you are sulling your reputation by parading Selam kidane as a human right activist and expert on Eritrea.In her own admission, she was born and breed in Ethiopia, is an ethiopian as far as she is concerned.

    • Joe DeCaro

      Whatever your opinon of her, Selem Kidane is still the director of Release Eritrea, a UK-based human rights organization.

      • Joe DeCaro

        You're not me because I don't have a vendetta against Selam Kidane, but how do your feel about Claire Beston?

        Amnesty International reported in May that there is still "rampant repression" in the country 20 years after it became independent from Ethiopia.

        "The government has systematically used arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition, to silence all dissent, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the repressive restrictions it places on people's lives," said Claire Beston, a researcher for Amnesty International.

        • Ben Emil

          Thank God I am not you. I have no vendetta against Selam Kidane but I am always skeptical of any person who makes incriminating claims against another entity even if it is an entire nation.

          I don't know who Claire Beston and if I research her background I may find things about her as well. But I won't waste my time doing that. The thing with Selam Kidane is she claimed to be a human rights "worker"/"activist" yet goes on Press TV to defend the atrocious human rights violating PM Meles Zenawi's regime. You can find it on youtube, apparently she was mourning her leader's death (Meles Zenawi).
          Thats a big RED flag to Eritreans when someone who claims to be an Eritrean is mourning the death of a dictator who waged a war against Eritreans and deported 50,000 Eritreans from Ethiopia. I'm not sorry but I think your lacking any geniune concern for human rights when you defend a person who defended a dictator.

          • Joe DeCaro

            How convenient that you don't have time to "google" Claire Beston; after all, it would take away time from posting all your comments defending "the North Korea of Africa".

            BTW, I thank God you are not me too.

          • Joe DeCaro

            According to the Bible, a fair verdict is reached with two witnesses, and in addition to the two women — whose combined testimony under sharia would only count as one witness — there are least four other witnesses in this article.
            World Watch Monitor, Voice of the Martyrs, Amnesty International and Ecumenical News have all testified against Eritrea.

          • Joe DeCaro

            Six million Eritreans don't rule Eritrea; there is only one dictator who runs that entire nation and his name is Isaias Afewerki.

          • Joe DeCaro

            Six million Eritreans didn't elect Isaias Afewerki; he is the dictator of the largest prison state since North Korea.

          • Joe DeCaro

            According to the estimated number of Eritreans currently imprisoned in their own country, it looks like you still have a state of emergency.

          • Joe DeCaro

            All the racism in the world doesn't justify the fact that Eritrea has become a giant prison and that you have become that prsion's spokesman.

          • Joe DeCaro

            For many Christians and politcial prisoners, Eritrea has beceome a hell on Earth.

          • Joe DeCaro

            Look how Claire Beston portrays Eritrea.

            Amnesty International reported in May that there is still "rampant repression" in the country 20 years after it became independent from Ethiopia.

            "The government has systematically used arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition, to silence all dissent, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the repressive restrictions it places on people's lives," said Claire Beston, a researcher for Amnesty International.

          • halibay

            yha brother you are right for both religions Eritrea has become a hell on Earth.but like this Ben Emil they don't need to hear truth today also many our brothers is in jail & totally our people in suffering & spend bad life and like Ben Emil worry about single evil person than people of Eritrean but the fact they are not pure ERITREAN ANY WAY MAY GOD BLESS ERITREA …

          • Joe DeCaro

            No matter how many times you play the "race card" it doesn't make Eritrea look any better than the giant prison it has become.

  • thizz_guy

    Article has been poorly written and filled with misinformation.

    "After 2002, Eritrea only recognized several state-sanctioned religions, such as Sunni Islam; this has allowed the government of President Isaias Afewerki to incarcerate up to 3,000 Christians for both political and religious reasons, according to Ecumenical News."

    How about Orthodox and Protestant denominations ?? 80% of the cabinet staff are of the Orthodox background/origin, including president himself – are their respective families imprisoned along with other non-recognized? Please present accurate information, instead of these half-truths. Doesn't take a genius to figure out how pathetic and shit-ridden this article, and presumably, this site itself as well.

    • Joe DeCaro

      The Lutheran Church is also a state-sanctioned denomination in Eritrea, but not all Protestants are Lutherans, and many Christians belong to non-denominational churches.

      • thizz_guy

        I hope you're aware you're speaking to an actual Eritrean. No, the Lutheran Church is not state sanctioned. Don't try to make new news. Ok, i'll give u that on Lutheran not all protestants…ok, i could care less about many christians…we're discussing specific-to-Eritrea. Most are denominational

        • Joe DeCaro

          I hope your aware that you can't prove you're "an actual Eritrean" anymore than I can prove that you're not.

          • thizz_guy

            Well, that's not my issue you have personal insecurities about people's identities outside this site.

  • gerie

    Folks, let's not give this air head an oxygen of publicity, afterall he has proved himself to be an imbecile. Now do us all a favour and crawl to the nearest hole. Thanks

  • Michael

    Joseph DeCaro, as a News Correspondent, I would think you would have done your due dilligence and investigated all your sources including your quoted individual Selem Kidane which if you did know how to actually spell her name it would be "Selam" Kidane. This individual doesn't give an more validity to the claims made against the nation-state of Eritrea as would a street homeless male drunk on alcohol and high on crack-cocaine speaking about knowing the truth about you. You see you wouldn't believe that crack-cocaine addicted homeless man, so why would you repeat what Selam Kidane says about an entire Nation ie ERITREA of which she has never even been in. Selam Kidane is as Eritrean as an Alaskan Iniut (Eskimo). Thats how far from the truth she is when she speaks about Eritrea!

    • Joe DeCaro

      How exactly can one misspell a name that was transliterated into English?

      For the record, many human rights activists have never been to Eritrea because they are refused entry into the secretive state, which is another reason why it's known as "the Korea of North Africa".

      • John Freemason

        Would you let a Lawyer, Judge and Executioner who called you a "1st Degree Murderer" into your house? Knowing that they can do all those things? Doesn't an African country have rights of soveriegnty? Or is soveriegnty only permitted for Western(White) countries like the US which btw has recently been trying to assassinate an NSA whistleblower? How do you feel about the NSA whistleblower, will you pray for him?

        • Joe DeCaro

          Sovereignty is not the same as secrecy.
          Eritrea has a lot to hide.

          • Joe DeCaro

            I doubt the Eritean people voted for a dictatorship, but that's what they have now.
            And if it doesn't bother you that Eritean prisons are filled with black Africans, it obviously doesn't bother the "president" who put them there.

          • Joe DeCaro

            Talk about not making sense …

          • Joe DeCaro

            If you are posting from a special place in Eritrea, then you're already familiar with living in Hell.

          • Joe DeCaro

            She has nothing to do with the fact that the country you are promoting has become a hell on earth.

          • Joe DeCaro

            Any comparisons in populations between a third world state smaller than most US states is ludicrous.

  • Joe DeCaro

    You really need to get over your war with Ethiopia, but your former nemesis now serves as a "scape goat" for all of Eritrea's current problems.

    • Joe DeCaro

      We're talking about all the human rights violations done by YOUR own people against their fellow Eiriteans, but I can understand why you want so desperately to change the subject.

      • Joe DeCaro

        I'm changing the subject?
        And exactly what does Ethiopia have to do with the hell on earth called Eritrea?

  • gerie

    Joe Decaro, rearing your ugly head again. oh the irony, so, you are a pseudo political journalist afterall? Why not work for fox news, CNN and et al. worthy Christian my back side, odious creep more like it.

  • Joe DeCaro

    The only government facilities in Eritrea filled with Christians are its prisons, but you don't have to take my word for it: just ask World Watch Monitor, Voice of the Martyrs, Amnesty International and all the other humanitarian NGOs that have compared Eritrea to North Korea.

    • Joe DeCaro

      All those organizations are true witnesses to the hell on earth called Eritrea.

    • Joe DeCaro

      Because this story is about Eritrea, NOT Ethiopia, although you have been trying to change the subject of this story since you first began posting.

  • Joe DeCaro

    from Human Rights Watch:

    "Torture, arbitrary detention, and severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and religious freedom remain routine in Eritrea. Elections have not been held since Eritrea gained independence in 1993, the constitution has never been implemented, and political parties are not allowed. There are no institutional constraints on President Isaias Afewerki, in power now for twenty years. In addition to ongoing serious human rights abuses, forced labor and indefinite military service prompt thousands of Eritreans to flee the country every year. Access to the country for international humanitarian and human rights organizations is almost impossible and the country has no independent media."

  • Saliman Mereg

    Did you just say Ethiopia invaded Eritrea? Don't you have any shame to openly lie? The whole world knows that it was your lunatic leader dictator Isayas Afewerki who sent his Mechanized troops and invaded Badme, destroyed Zalambesa, and many other Ethiopian places. You can try to fool some foreigners, but you cannot change the fact. Leba!

  • truth just

    Let's set the records straight here:

    There are some people who would like to believe that the government of Eritrea doesn't arrest Christians. To these people I say, you are victims of propaganda or you benefit from the current regime in Eritrea. Either way, you are laughing at the suffering of the Eritrean people.

    People have the right to believe in whatever they want, people have the right to pray to whatever God they feel right, so long as they don't encroach on the rights of others.

    I don't believe 15, 16 year old girls gathering for prayer inside private homes are masterminding a coup to overthrow the government, but they are treated accordingly.

    Ones in jail, they are grilled and threatened and finally
    forced to sign a rejection of their belief. Those who sign are released
    while those who don't languish.

    The question is why is the government over-reacting when it comes to Christians. If it believes that the ideology that they preach is damaging, is it the right way to tackle it? I think it is basically lack of self confidence and employ the idea – If you don't know something, get rid of it.

    Another argument could be, yes the government of Eritrea isn't targeting Christians alone, it is also targeting intellectuals, opposition voices, journalists, business people. In that case, you are right.

  • Joe DeCaro

    No, "schmuck" is a Yiddish sexual slur, and only a race-baiter like you would say otherwise, but if he really wanted to insult you, he would have used the more vulgar "putz".
    What "truth just" is politely trying to tell you is that you think with your "other" head.
    Now do you understand?

  • Joe DeCaro

    Only a race baiter like you would consider "shmuck" to be racist; a "shmuck" is Yiddish for someone who thinks with his "other" head.
    truth just was just being polite, otherwise he would have called you a "putz".

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