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11 Christians arrested in Eritrea’s latest ‘cleansing’

ICC Note

“Evangelicals have died while they’ve been in prison. They are offered medical treatment when they are suffering from malaria or some other sickness IF they recant their evangelical faith, which is seen by the government as a new religion, tied with the U.S. They see evangelical Christianity as bringing down the government.”

11/4/2010 Eritrea (MNN) ― The governor of the Southern Zone of Eritrea has ordered a crackdown on Christians living in his province.
As a result, Eritrean security officials rounded up Christians from the cities of Mendefera, Dekemharre and Dibarwa. Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “Just when you start to think that perhaps the Eritrean government is going to relax the situation toward evangelical Christians, those hopes again are dashed.”

Police also confiscated TVs, video players and other electronic equipment that belonged to the Christians.  According to reports from International Christian Concern and Assist News, most of the detained belong to the Full Gospel Church, an evangelical church that was among those that were banned by Eritrean officials in 2002.
11 remain in detention. Musselman confirms the situation but observes, “It is so targeted toward a specific group, that it is sad there has not been more of an international cry.”

Despite information that 3000 believers are being held illegally, the government continues to support its statement issued in May 2003 that “no groups or persons are persecuted in Eritrea for their beliefs or religion.”

Information about the arrests and the detentions is hard to come by. Most often, details of a missing Christian come only when they’ve fallen ill in jail. Sometimes, it’s just too late. Musselman says, “Evangelicals have died while they’ve been in prison. They are offered medical treatment when they are suffering from malaria or some other sickness IF they recant their evangelical faith, which is seen by the government as a new religion, tied with the U.S. They see evangelical Christianity as bringing down the government.”

However, in spite of this news, the Gospel is still going forward.  In fact, years before the crackdowns began, God directed the churches to go underground.  There, “Discipleship became very key and center, which it should always be, but in that case, they were really discipling the next leaders.”

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