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Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali calls for religious freedom in Eritrea

ICC Note

“They [Eritrean officials] are torturing and killing Christians Christians are treated like animals.”

01/12/2010 Eritrea (Release International)-Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, the patron of Release International, is to present a petition to the Eritrean Embassy and No.10 Downing Street calling for religious freedom for Eritrean Christians imprisoned and tortured for their faith.

More than 43,000 people have signed the petition, which is to be handed in on January 15. It is the culmination of a major campaign by Release, which has included the publication of the book Song of the Nightingale. This is the searing first-person account of gospel singer Helen Berhane who was incarcerated in a shipping container and brutally beaten by the Eritrean authorities.

The petition will be handed in by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who resigned his post as Bishop of Rochester to speak out on behalf of persecuted Christians.

Eritrea has imprisoned more than 2,000 Christians, some in underground cells or shipping containers, and allows limited freedom to only a few traditional faiths.

‘Our message to Eritrea is stop the brutality. We’re calling on Eritrea to honour the right to freedom of religion, guaranteed under its own constitution,’ he adds.

Other prisoners have described being brutalised to try to make them renounce their faith. ‘They are torturing and killing Christians,’ says Hanibal, a Christian activist who is documenting the persecution in Eritrea . ‘Christians are treated like animals.’

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