Relaymedia

Christians to Pray, Fast for Religious Freedom in Eritrea

( [email protected] ) May 12, 2004 09:44 AM EDT

In response to the continuing persecution of Christians, protestors are to campaign outside the Eritrean Embassy on May 21, followed by a day of fasting and prayer on May 22, the second anniversary of the government banning of all but three denominations.

Since the activities of all but the Orthodox, Lutheran Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches were banned, Eritrean security forces have raided dozens of homes and arrested hundreds of Christians, including young children, simply for having a Bible or attending Christian gatherings. There are reported to be at least 375 Christians currently under arrest.

Tina Lambert, Advocacy Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide commented, "The situation over the last year has become worse, not better, for Eritrean Christians. Despite repeated assurances from the government there is no problem, hundreds of Christians remain behind bars simply for following their faith. It is our privilege to stand with Eritrean Christians as they campaign for religious freedom in their country."

Supporters will gather outside the embassy on White Lion Street, Islington, from 11 to 12:30PM and a large Bible with a padlock through it will form the visual focus.

In addition to coordinating the protest outside the Eritrean Embassy, CSW has raised the mistreatment of Christians with the Foreign Office and the European Union as well as providing detailed briefings to other key advocates.

Reverend Abraham Y Bula, Chair of the Eritrean Christian Fellowship in Europe (ECFE), stated that the fellowship regretted having to speak out about human rights violations in Eritrea. He said it had only done so following the failure of numerous attempts to engage the government in a dialogue about the persecution of fellow Christians.

Rev Bula stated, "Several times we have written to the President and also tried to address ambassadors and representatives of the government in our respective countries of residence, this has to date been to no avail. By contrast the purge against fellow Christians in Eritrea has been relentless and now we are forced to expose this to international organizations."

It was on May 22, 2002, that all churches not belonging to the Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Evangelical Lutheran denominations were ordered to close. So far, at least 36 churches have been closed.