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World Urged To Remember Eritrea ‘s Jailed Christians At UN Human Rights Day

BosNewsLife News

10 December 2006

LONDON/ASMARA (BosNewsLife)– Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Release Eritrea and Eritreans for Human and Democratic Rights said they had already organized a peaceful protest outside the Eritrean Embassy in Islington, London leading up to the Human Rights Day.

“Several thousand prisoners of conscience are detained without charge or trial in Eritrea ” most of them for their faith in Christ, and protestors seek “to highlight the wide variety of human rights abuses carried out by the Eritrean regime,” CSW added.

The group claimed that abuse include “the pervasive use of torture and extra-judicial killings in the country’s many detention centers.” Similar demonstrations have also been held in South Africa , the United States and the Netherlands .

LIFE DIFFICULT

“Life in the country is increasingly characterized by random disappearances, with people being arbitrarily detained without any official notification to family and friends. The government also practices “revolving door arrests”, whereby people are detained and released” only to be detained again at a later date,” CSW told BosNewsLife.

Human rights workers have described Eritrea as “a mass of detention centers.” Prisons are so overcrowded that airport hangars, police stations, containers and “other unsuitable accommodation function as long or short term holding cells for the country’s burgeoning population of detainees,” CSW claimed.

Reports of persecution of Christians increased since May 2002 when the Eritrean government ordered the closure of all churches not belonging to the Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Lutheran denominations. However pressure has recently also increased on traditional churches as the government also banned religious practises other than Islam.

CHRISTIANS KILLED

In October, two young Christians, Immanuel Andegergesh and Kibrom Firemichel were reportedly tortured to death two days after having been arrested for holding a religious service in a private home south of Asmara .

Some 2000 Christians are currently detained, for the most part without charge, in Eritrea , human rights workers say. The Eritrean government has denied human rights abuses and says it only wants to protect the country against dangerous sects

Christians are estimated to constitute about two-thirds of the country’s known prisoners of conscience. Among them is the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Abune Antonius, who CSW said has been “illegally removed from office” and placed under house arrest for objecting to government interference in church affairs.

It was unclear whether the UN would raise the issue of Eritrean Christians during this year’s International Human Rights Day, which has been observed annually since 1948, when the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.