Crowds Gather Outside Eritrean Embassy In Response to Persecution; Call for Day of Fasting, Prayer

( [email protected] ) May 22, 2004 02:29 PM EDT

A crowd of protestors gathered outside of the Eritrean Embassy in London May 21 in response to the continuing persecution of Christians. Campaigners held up banners and sang choruses of protest, and prayed for religious freedom.

“The situation over the last year has become worse, not better, or Eritrean Christians,” said Tina Lambert, Advocacy Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “Despite repeated assurances from the government that there is no problem, hundred of Christians remain behind bars simply for following their faith.”

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.

CSW has also called for a day of fasting and prayer on May 22, the second anniversary of the government banning of all but three denominations.

Reverend Abraham Y Bula, Chair of the Eritrean Christian Fellowship of 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.

“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,” Bula said.

Since the act ivies of all but the Orthodox, Lutheran Evangelical and Roman Catholic Churches were banned in May 2002, Eritrean security forces have raided dozens of homes and arrested hundreds of Christians, including young children, simply for having a Bible or attending a Christian gathering. There are reported to be at least 375 Christians in prison, many having served nearly two years.

Also, CSW reports that at least 36 churches have been closed since the ban.