“Prisoners were fed two pieces of bread three times a day. A bucket in the middle of the room served as a toilet between escorted bathroom breaks, but it constantly spilled and contaminated the room with urine and feces. Many prisoners could not talk due to the lack of water, their tongues stuck to the roofs of their mouth from thirst.”
The quote above is the description of the day to day lives of some of our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned for their faith in Eritrea. The information comes from a leaked US embassy cable recently published by Wikileaks in which US officials quote a recently released prisoner who reported that he and another 600 prisoners were kept together in a 40 by 38 foot cell.
“It was not possible to lie down and barely possible to sit,” he described, adding that his 600 cellmates were “Eritreans who tried to flee the country, military deserters, common criminals, and Protestants [presumably of unregistered denominations].”
Take a moment to imagine yourself with your brothers and sisters in one of these cells, and you might begin to understand why US embassy officials added to the report that “although the physical abuse and deprivations took a toll on [the released prisoner’s] body, it was the psychological abuse of being packed in with so many other people, of not knowing when the next beating would come, and believing he could be killed, that was the most damaging.”
It is estimated that there are currently 3,000 Eritrean Christians imprisoned for their faith in Christ. They are treated as less than animals. Many are kept in underground dungeons, metal shipping containers and military barracks. The “lucky” few who are kept in actual prison cells are still brutalized. Numbers of believers have died in prison due to torture and lack of medical care.
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it,” 1 Corinthians 12:26. The body of Christ in Eritrea is suffering. We need to empathize with their pain. You can help the Eritrean Christians by praying for them, providing assistance to the families of prisoners and calling Eritrean officials to ask them to release prisoners.
For information on helping the families of prisoners, please contact ICC.