Referred to as the “North Korea of Africa,” the “most oppressive nation on Earth,” and the “great prison,” Isaias Afewerki’s Eritrean regime continues to utilize mass-arbitrary detention as a method to repress perceived acts of dissent and sedition, including any expression of religious belief outside of state sanctioned institutions and activities. The below is an account of the atrocious conditions detainees often suffer in Eritrea. Many Eritreans are arrested and detained for religious practice or refusal to honor national conscription mandates without a trial or formal sentence. They are then detained for indefinite amounts of time and subjected to inhumane conditions—including undernourishment, extreme temperatures, and sub-par hygiene—and torture.
7/5/2013 Eritrea (Grand Lake News) — Helen Berhane led the other 17 women in songs of worship. She taught stories from the Bible, prayed for the women and encouraged them to endure. The 18 women are locked in a shipping container, in the nation of Eritrea.
The container had not held Christian prisoners for some time, so the flees and lice were very hungry. Bathroom break was once a day, at daybreak. The doors were open and the women marched half-a-mile to an open field with no cover.
The Christian women are marched back to the container and lock up again for 24 hours. Daytime temperatures in the container in the African sun are indescribable. Night temperatures plummet and the women shivered to survive.
Helen’s first arrest was for preaching on the steps of a church. She told the people they needed to pray for peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and trust Jesus to direct the nation. Helen was arrested several more times before the government sent her to the shipping container prison.
One day the guards grew weary of hearing the Christian worship coming out of the container. They opened the door and pulled those who admit to singing to Jesus. These women are beaten and commanded to stop singing.
When tossed back into the container, they sang again. Next, came the forced running on sharp gravel, bare-foot and tied up for hours and more beatings.
The women never crumbled, but keep serving Jesus and bewildering the guards!