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 06/15/2020 Eritrea (Gateway News) –On Thursday May 28, leading rights groups and church officials planned to hold their annual protest and prayer vigil against the reported massive persecution of Christians in Eritrea for the first time online, amid ongoing coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Britain. The protest usually takes place outside the Eritrean embassy in London. The organizer of the protest, Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), stated the following, “We may be on lockdown, but we will not be silenced.” “The internet demonstration would include a one-hour online prayer service. The initiative comes amid reports that tens of thousands of Eritreans, including many Christians, are detained without charge or trial in what activists’ view as life-threatening conditions in more than 300 sites across the country.”

Their London protests began after March 2002 when Eritrea’s government banned practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, or Orthodox Christian denominations and Sunni Islam. Christian converts from a Muslim background or an Orthodox background reportedly face harsh mistreatment from their families and communities. Thomas said in a statement that, “For the 17th year in a row, we will be protesting the severe repression of freedom of religion or belief in Eritrea. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea deemed it a crime against humanity. Young Christians are also forced to join the armed forces, with no opportunity for conscientious objection.” He added that, “without due process for peacefully practicing their faith. We will continue calling on the Eritrean authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, including those detained on account of their religious beliefs. And [we] will stand in solidarity with the Eritrean people until every prison door is opened and all who have been detained unjustly are set free.” Eritrea’s government has denied human rights abuses.

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