Worthy Christian News » Eritrea: "a Giant Prison"

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Worthy Christian News » Eritrea: "a Giant Prison"

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

ASMARA, ERITREA (Worthy News)– Human Rights Watch described it as "a giant prison" and Reporters without Borders called it "the most repressive nation on earth".

It's Eritrea, an independent state in Africa whose president, Isaias Afewerki, was described in a 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable as an "unhinged dictator".

Physically, Eritrea is bounded by the Red Sea on the east, by Djibouti on the southeast, by Ethiopia on the south and west and Sudan on the north and northwest. Spiritually, Eritrea's diverse population is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, and though President Afewerki's own faith is disputed, some say his real religion is Marxism.

What's not disputed is that Afewerki's regime has a "built-in hostility to all religion," according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

"It began in the 1990s by persecuting Jehovah Witnesses and Muslims before initiating a brutal crackdown on Christianity that has continued since May 2002 when it outlawed all but three denominations(*). Up to 3,000 Christians are thought to be imprisoned in Eritrea without charge or trial, including members of permitted denominations."

In addition to Christians, thousands of political prisoners are being held by Eritrea in "unimaginably atrocious conditions," yet not one has ever been charged with committing a crime, according to Amnesty International.

Prisoners in Eritrea receive little in the way of food, water or medical treatment; they can be locked-up in underground cells, or inside metal shipping containers that are left out in the desert heat. Some prisoners are left for days in "the helicopter position," i.e., lying face down with their hands and feet bound together.

Amnesty reports at least 10,000 people have been jailed for political reasons since Afewerki assumed the presidency 20 years ago; many of those imprisoned are critics of his government, but some were jailed after they tried to flee Eritrea to avoid conscription into its military.

In Eritrea, military service is both mandatory and indefinite; Eritrea's military spending is more than 20 percent of its GDP, the highest percent in the world, according to CSW.

Finally, as one of the most repressive, secretive and inaccessible countries in the world, the closed nature of Eritrea has made it difficult for CSW and other human rights orgs to accurately gauge its internal religious persecution in the midst of the region's much wider human suffering.

(*) Those three denominations are the Eritrean Orthodox, the Catholic and the Lutheran-affiliated Evangelical Church of Eritrea; excluded are all the Pentecostal and independent evangelical groups that had established missions in Eritrea, according to The Christians.com.

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31 Comments on this post.

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  • Hailu
    18 June 2013 at 1:27 am - Reply

    This is Correct,

    Eritrea is the only place beside North Korea, the misery the Eritrean people experiencing is un-imaginable and very difficult to comprehend in the normal minds.
    Although many brutal dictators are see in the world, but there is no one who has optimized his brutality as Isayas President of Eritrea.He is a collective out come of all dictators in the world and i will never wait to see any more dictator as brutal s Isayas.

    No one expected this guerilla fighters for freedom will do this all to their own people.
    As the over all nature of the North Africa NA Middles east is changing rapidly for ever, the development in Eritrea is going to be very complex too.The regime will do all evil things if any thing comes into his power.
    -he will spark religious conflicts
    -he will en-flame regional and tribal feelings
    -he will systematically allow the Islamists through Rahsayda in to the whole country

    The regime will mess the country as much as he can , the only way to deal is to wisely organize strong opposition and educate our people not to be a victim of his snare tactics.

    • Yohannes Tadese
      18 June 2013 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Ditto what Hailu said, I hope Isayas goes to hell, this wicked evil man who has been bathing in the blood of Eritreans for decades

      • Joe DeCaro
        20 June 2013 at 5:39 am -

        Why are you accusing others of not being Eritrean since you previously denied that YOU were Eritrean?

      • Joe DeCaro
        22 June 2013 at 1:35 pm -

        IF true, your admission of not being Eritrean — after criticizing others for not being Eritrean — is hypocrisy, NOT honesty.

  • EritreanAmerican
    18 June 2013 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    Hailu is either one of those Ethiopians under the guise of an Eritrean or he is part of the list of the bottom mentioned group. ERITREA a giant prison is a JOKE! That is why close to 150000 people are flocking to go visit this place that you people are making stuff about.

    Much has been said and written about religion in Eritrea and various accusations have been hurled at the Government and people of Eritrea over the last 8 years. I believe it is time once again to re-visit the issue of "religious freedom" in Eritrea and how this "wedge issue" was hatched and why Eritrea was targeted. While the regime in Ethiopia may have contributed, by way of lies and disinformation, to the campaign to demonize the Eritrean leadership, the scope of the agendas seem to be much larger than anything the aid-dependent minority regime could ever muster on its own. A beggar regime whose national budget is donor subsidized and whose people are dependent on food aid, and whose institutions of government are externally funded and run, neither has the financial or intellectual capacity, to launch or sustain such a campaign.

    It was also a campaign that the so-called Eritrean opposition (a dubious association of like-minded defectors, disgruntled diplomats, pedophiles, rapists, self-professed "intellectuals and professionals" and an assortment of scandalous opportunists), who I have baptized as Eritrea´s Quislings League (EQL), could never organize or lead without directives.

    • Joe DeCaro
      18 June 2013 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      If ERITREA: "a giant prison" is a JOKE, I don't think prisoners left for days in "the helicopter position," i.e., lying face down with their hands and feet bound together, find it very funny.

      • Joe DeCaro
        19 June 2013 at 7:07 am -

        Your continuous, childish name-calling distractions to the truth about what happens inside Eritrea won't stop these stories from being published.

        Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Amnesty International and many other human rights orgs all agree that Eritrea has become a hell on Earth.
        You are just in denial about it.

      • Joe DeCaro
        20 June 2013 at 5:51 am -

        So state-run Eritrean "sources" deny that Eritrea is a hell on earth, or that its president, Isaias Afewerk is an "unhinged dictator"?
        What a surprise!

    • Saliman Mereg
      18 June 2013 at 11:23 pm - Reply

      Why do blind supporters of the dictatorial regime in Eritrea always talk about Ethiopia when the matter is about Eritrea? Please stop using Ethiopia (and Eritrean opposition, USA, CIA, etc) as a scapegoat to the problems in Eritrea. Can you address each and every point that this article raised and prove them false? Everyone knows that this article is completely true. You cannot hide facts by coming with lies now and then!

      • Saliman Mereg
        19 June 2013 at 11:54 pm -

        Dude, how could I be a Djiboutian and Somalian?
        Are you insane?

        Anyway, if you are Eritrean, what is written in the article is right. Prove it wrong if you can.

      • Suleman Mareeg
        20 June 2013 at 12:17 am -

        Saliman Waarya me fala Somaali. I know you are a Somali because your name is Somalian or Djiboutian as "Mereg" which you misspelled is actually "Mareeg" which is a common Darood Somali Clan name, but the again, your not Eritrean or Somali as you are lying about your origin to post about Eritrea. Try again, and please don't use our Somali name to try to talk bad about our Eritrean brothers and sisters in Eritrea.
        And I think in correct logic which you lack: The requirement is to prove a something TRUE, not to try to Prove a Negative WRONG!

        You made the claim which is Negative, prove it is right otherwise it is wrong! Therefore you or Joe or David or Rahwa or any body else making a claim has to prove it. And using self-serving sources will not make it correct or true or Valid in the logical sense!

      • Saliman Mereg
        20 June 2013 at 12:21 am -

        First, Suleman Mareeg and Saliman Mereg are different names.

        Second, the burden of prove falls on those who are opposing the article. Thus, prove if false if you can!

      • True Eritrean
        20 June 2013 at 1:21 am -

        Kemay alekha , kabay adhikha anta gohaaf wedisebyatee fuunfuun agame kab sh'rmuta tewelday. Kenday shilho lehihiskha anta gohaf uguum. Emo tezarebe be ze quankwa enderh' temeleski, fuul't eyu eskha hadi agami b' shem saliman ne' ertrah ketekfi metseka, haam'd beelaah ender'h terekak'bka , kesaadkha mis tahanekay b' qorentee!

        "Saliman Mereg" if you translate what I wrote up top, it means that you are a Tigrayan Ethiopian pretending to be a Somalian who wants to make Eritrea look bad.

        If you can't translate it, it means you are either a Westerner pretending to be a Somalian who wants to make Eritrea look bad.

        OR

        You can't be a Somalian because SOMALIA shares NO BORDER with ERITREA. However Ethiopia does share a Border and infact ETHIOPIA INVADED SOMALIA in 2006 and is currently committing GENOCIDE which Joe DeCaro would not mention because well Joe is NOT an ETHICAL nor MORAL guy , go figure a phoney "christian". Either way Saliman , you attempt is TRULY a FAILURE!

      • Joe DeCaro
        20 June 2013 at 5:46 am -

        Ethiopia and the rest of its neighbors don't have to make Eritrea look bad because it is bad.
        Why do Eritreans risk imprisonment and torture to flee from their own country?

      • Ben Emil
        21 June 2013 at 12:43 pm -

        Why do Ethiopians risk imprisonment and torture to flee from their own country?

      • Joe DeCaro
        22 June 2013 at 1:43 pm -

        Why do you continually confuse Ethiopia with Eritrea?

        Although both nations begin with an "E", Eritrea came out of Ethiopia during its war of independence, therefore Ethiopia is no longer responsible for what happens in its former lands.

        Eritrea, NOT Ethiopia, has been called the "North Korea of Africa" thanks in no small part to its "unhinged" dictator of a president, Isaias Afewerki.

    • Rahwa
      19 June 2013 at 5:12 am - Reply

      Eritreans like 'EritreanAmerican' should be ashamed of themselves and have blood on their hands. Yes, regime apologists flock there to ignore the suffering and hang out partying all summer, but why not ask the Eritreans I met in Israel who have had a horrific time in Sinai why they and many like them flee even with all of the associated dangers? If Eritrea is so damn great, why doesn't 'EritreanAmerican' go live there and enrol his kids into indefinite service? People like this poster make me so sick. Our people are being killed by a maniac dictator and our country is being pushed further into a pariah state position. We are one of the largest producers of refugees…WHY if the country is so great?

      My husband is English and came with me to Eritrea a few years ago. He could not get permits to travel to my father's village and the whole process was restrictive and difficult. In any case, even if he HAD been able to travel around freely, this does not detract from the fact that the people who live there are suffering.

      • Saliman Mereg
        19 June 2013 at 11:56 pm -

        Why do you label someone who tells the truth as enemy of Eritrea? The fact is those stooges who are the reason for the sufferings of the Eritrean people are the main enemies of Eritreans. The PFDJ and its blind supporters like you are the worst enemies of the people of Eritrea. Anzar!

      • True Eritrean
        20 June 2013 at 12:21 am -

        "Saliman Mereg", what is your nationality anyways, you don't sound like an Eritrean so the passion you speak with ie the Hate you speak with of Eritrea's government can only mean that you are an Agame masquerading as a "Somalian" who for some odd reason has hatred for a government he never came in contact with as Eritrea Has NO BORDER with Somalia! You Filthy agame, you will pay for your lies personally, you attack Eritrea, you attack Eritreans, you are an enemy combatant!

      • Saliman Mereg
        20 June 2013 at 12:23 am -

        The mafia regime in Eritrea is the worst enemy of the Eritrean people. It is because of the worthless dictator Isayas that the people of Eritrea are going through all kinds of sufferings.

      • True Eritrean
        20 June 2013 at 1:14 am -

        Just because you use the word "mafia regime" doesn't make it true any more than me calling you a homosexual mean that you are a gay man? You understand, mr. Agame pretending to be Somalian who is heavily filled with Hate towards toward Eritrea and its government!

        "Saliman Mereg" until you actually prove the claims your making just because you inject a false emotive "energy" into them doesn't make them true. Obviously, your claims don't stand to the standard "Sniff Test" as what you say smells weird and wrong and has no backing other than you "passionately crying", which any sophmore elementary theatre student could pull off for a grade of C-. You FAIL! Try again, "Saliman" the Somali AGAME!

    • David MacKenzie
      19 June 2013 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      I continue to hear about a fair amount of tourists going to North Korea, as well, these days— some even knowing that their 'nice' guided tours will not really touch upon the tens of thousands in prison there for political and religious reasons, either. Wake up!

      • David MacKenzie
        20 June 2013 at 8:06 am -

        Ben, you're all over the road. What has evolution got to do with Eritrean leadership and its abuses of power? Go ahead and love your country. That's not the issue. But don't be deluded into believing that low crime and tourist flow is somehow THE primary indicator of national health; it is not. Hitler hosted the Olympics, but that's no justification for his regime.

      • Joe DeCaro
        27 June 2013 at 3:38 pm -

        Although "ERITREA is NOT North Korea," it is the "North Korea of Africa" according to every human rights org in the world.

  • Ben Emil
    18 June 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    I am reposting this just incase Joe DeCaro tries to delete it using some petty excuse like "NO websites" in a post, that is fine

    I wouldn't doubt if Joe DeCaro delete's this post on his website as it would contradict all the negative things he says about Eritrea. Go to Lonely Planet website and search stories from Travellers (Westerners like yourselves) who have travelled to Eritrea and get their feedback. Down Below is from a fellow named Dan (Australian) who in my opinion gave a fair assessment of Eritrea as he witnessed it. Organizations like AI, HRW, RSF don't visit Eritrea even undercover as tourists because well what they will see will contradict the negative narrative they've been making money off of Eritrea.

    Go to Lonely Planet website a dot com and search for "ERITREA Trip Report" by kangaroo_islander

    Australian Dan wrote on Lonely Planet:

    "Hey guys,

    I recently returned from a great 2 week trip to Eritrea. I am an australian citizen and managed to get a visa easily from the consulate in melbourne- $80 with no need to show proof of flight.

    Flights to Eritrea are quite expensive as competition is very limited. I paid $440 return fromDubai to Asmara on Egyptair. This flight is one of Eritrea's main connections with the outside world. The arrival and departure times for this flight are pretty grim – arrive to Asmara at 3am and depart at 4am."

    "Eritrea is extremely safe. I was walking the street in the middle of the night and felt under no threat. People I spoke with basically told me that there is no crime."

    "Whilst I was there I was surprised to meet several other travellers – mostly Italians in a tour group but also independent travellers from the UK and USA. Given the dearth of information on the thorntree I didn't expect to meet anyone.

    After visiting the country I don't really know what to think- much of what I heard from local people (which wasn't a lot) and saw for myself seemed to contrast dramatically with what is reported in the western media. My impression is that Eritrea is unfairly vilified and sanctioned….but I don't know much.

    It's a beautiful and very diverse country…I hope others have the opportunity to visit like I did.

    Cheers,

    Dan"

    • yacob abraham
      18 June 2013 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      Eritrea i'm sad to say is in a major humanitarian crisis. I escaped that hell hole country 4 years ago. I don't have the ability to do much. Please keep posting all the hoarer that goes on that country. Please petition congress and let them know of our situation

    • Joe DeCaro
      19 June 2013 at 7:11 am - Reply

      "Australian Dan"?
      Are you serious?
      I'm surprised the bogus blog wasn't penned by "Crocodile Dundee"!

      • Joe DeCaro
        20 June 2013 at 5:42 am -

        My name is more real than yours, troll, and human rights orgs aren't allowed into the "North Korea of Africa".

      • Joe DeCaro
        22 June 2013 at 1:52 pm -

        Does Eritrea have a constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech?

        If so, then why does it employ "the helicopter position"?

    • David MacKenzie
      19 June 2013 at 3:30 pm - Reply

      If low crime is the key to whether a country is stable and acceptable, then why not embrace totalitarianism fully, everywhere? Since when is this ANY indication of a nation's health? Now, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to vote, freedom to bear arms, etc., PLUS low crime, that's another matter.

  • Joe DeCaro
    22 June 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    I don't preach, I WRITE for WorthyNews, whose webmaster asked me if I wanted you banned from this forum altogether — and if my deletion of your more outrageous remarks doesn't get through to you, that's what will happen.
    I'll let you decide what happens next.

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