When: Wednesday 31 May,
Where: Eritrean Embassy,
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Release Eritrea and Christian Concern for Freedom of Conscience (CCFC) will hold a protest outside the Eritrean Embassy in
The aim of the protest is to highlight the Eritrean governments decision of 22 May 2002 to effectively outlaw denominations representing thousands of Christians, and the subsequent increase of human rights abuses in that country. The protest will call for freedom of religion and the unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience in Eritrea .
CSW, Release Eritrea and Release International have also organized a Prayer Concert in London on Saturday 20 May. In addition, CSW is requesting worldwide prayer for Eritrea on Sunday 21 May.
Over 1700 Christians are currently detained indefinitely and mostly without charge in Eritrea . Several have suffered mistreatment as the authorities have sought to force them to renounce their manner of worship. In at least one confirmed case a Christian leader is known to have died as a result of mistreatment in detention.
It is almost impossible for Christians from non-sanctioned churches to meet, even informally, without risking indefinite detention. One pastor was even snatched from his car while driving alone through the capital city Asmara . The regime has now become so repressive that it currently forbids meetings of groups of more than seven, even in a public area, without official authorisation.
Members of permitted churches are not immune to persecution. Most significantly, His Holiness Abune Antonios, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, was illegally removed from office in January 2006 following government machinations, and is currently under a stringent regime of house arrest.
Many fear the government may have already installed a de facto replacement for the Patriarch. On 22 April the official government news agency reported that His Holiness Abune Dioscoros, Head of the EOC Holy Synod, had given the traditional Easter Benedictions. In a powerful letter challenging the grounds for his dismissal Patriarch Antonios had implored Dioscoros to refrain from his negative activities.