In an increasingly hostile display of state paranoia, Isaias Afewerki’s Eritrean regime continues to selectively persecute minority religions unaffiliated with the state—evangelical Christianity foremost among them. Known for arbitrarily detaining and torturing Christian congregants and state dissidents, recent reports detail Eritrea’s systematic violations of human rights, including thousands of forced disappearances in which victims are held incommunicado, often inhumanely confined to extremely small, dark cells or packed by the dozens into shipping containers to survive insufferably hot and cold temperatures in Eritrea’s vast expanses of uninhabited desert. At current persecution rates, Eritrean sources predict Christianity will soon cease to exist in “Africa’s North Korea.”
06/10/2013 Eritrea (Worthy News) – Religious persecution in Eritrea is at its highest ever and getting even worse, according to World Watch Monitor, the news outlet of Open Doors, a Christian charity that ranked Eritrea 10th on its World Watch List.
This year alone, 191 Christians have already been arrested in the African country as Eritrea lives up to its epithet: “the North Korea of Africa”.
After 2002, Eritrea only recognized several state-sanctioned religions, such as Sunni Islam; this has allowed the government of President Isaias Afewerki to incarcerate up to 3,000 Christians for both political and religious reasons, according to Ecumenical News.
“Any religion that is not willing to come under the control of the government is being persecuted,” said Selem Kidane, the director of Release Eritrea, a UK-based human rights organization. “It’s not just confined to Christians. But in terms of being completely banned, it’s the minority churches that have suffered the most …”
Amnesty International reported in May that there is still “rampant repression” in the country 20 years after it became independent from Ethiopia.
“The government has systematically used arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition, to silence all dissent, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the repressive restrictions it places on people’s lives,” said Claire Beston, a researcher for Amnesty International.
People caught trying to illegally leave Eritrea are detained and held in horrible conditions; many are kept in metal shipping containers without ventilation, according to Voice of the Martyrs.