Since 2003, Christians in the small East African country of Eritrea have been under siege, with thousands languishing in prisons for their faith. This despite the country being nearly evenly split between Christians and Muslims.
— ICN (@ICN_UK) May 19, 2017
A new crackdown on Christians has seen mass arrests in recent weeks, as the Eritrean Christian Patriarch Antonios marks ten years in detention.
160 Christians Arrested During Eritrea's Fresh Crackdown on Christianity: 12 children are actually in prison with… https://t.co/4cmkmjD3Gk
— The Christian Post (@ChristianPost) June 28, 2017
International Christian Concern reports:
Eritrea has now arrested 200 Christians in house-to-house raids, in a tough new crackdown which is tearing children from their parents. Young children and a baby are among those arrested. It’s feared they could spend their childhood in a prison cell. Release International is calling on Eritrea to free the Christians and has launched a campaign calling for concerted prayer for Eritrea’s prisoners of faith.
Security forces in Eritrea have been going house-to-house arresting Christians. They have rounded up 177 adults, along with some 20 small children. The arrests are continuing and many Christians have gone into hiding.
Release International partner Dr Berhane Asmelash says rounding up Christians door-to-door is a new tactic that signals a worsening of the crackdown. He believes the single-party state is taking a tough new line against the church.
“People used to be arrested for conducting unauthorised meetings, such as Bible studies or prayers. But this is new for us when they go from house to house. They are arresting people for their beliefs, not for their actions. This is getting worse. Many Christians are in hiding.”
“Security forces in different towns went from house to house asking people their religion. If they were outside the [state sanctioned] Lutheran, Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox faiths, they arrested them.”
“Twelve children were arrested with their parents, and some parents were forced to leave their underage children unattended.”
Children who are too young to be separated from their mothers face being brought up in jail unless their parents are released. They include a two-month old baby.
It’s believed that as many as 3,000 Christians are imprisoned in Eritrea under extreme conditions.
— World Watch Monitor (@wwmonitor) June 30, 2017
Persecuted Christians in Eritrea: 'The guards offered to let us go if we renounced Jesus. We said no' https://t.co/HiDYok6gYl
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) July 5, 2017
Earlier this year two Christian women died as a result of a hunger strike to protest their treatment, with autopsies revealing they had been raped.
Christian Women Give Their Lives to Highlight Persecution in Eritrea https://t.co/ORrWDMSkZS
— CBN News (@CBNNews) April 1, 2017
One report on the hunger strikes states:
Two Pentecostal women have died following a hunger strike after being transferred to a hospital from the detention centre where they were being held.
Eritrean website Erimedrek News reported that the women had been detained at Wi’a Military Camp and had begun a hunger strike in protest at the abuse they were experiencing whilst incarcerated.
The site also reported that bruises on the women’s bodies suggested that they had injuries consistent with sexual abuse.
The women were admitted to Massawa Hospital on 12 March, where they were guarded by security personnel, but died five days later.
In late May, coinciding with the beginning of Ramadan, 89-year old Eritrean Christian Patriarch Antonios marked ten years under house arrest.
A number of countries, including the U.S., denounced the continued detention of the leader of the Eritrean Orthodox Church and the denial of medical treatment:
I am deeply concerned about the continued imprisonment of Patriarch Antonios of Eritrea. I join other calls for his unconditional release.
— Knox Thames (@KnoxThames) June 7, 2017
— France Diplomacy🇫🇷 (@francediplo_EN) June 13, 2017
— Human Rights at FCO (@FCOHumanRights) June 26, 2017
In the past few years, Eritrea has been one of the top countries for refugees — with tens of thousands living in camps in neighboring Ethiopia, having fled Eritrea’s religious persecution.
Many have died trying to escape.
As many as 300 feared dead in boat sinking off Italy, many were Christians fleeing terror in Eritrea and Somalia http://t.co/EwIxf1Ck9r
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) October 6, 2013
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Africa, Coptic Christians in Egypt continue to be killed in random attacks.
— Daily Express (@Daily_Express) July 7, 2017
— إشهد | Eshhad (@Eshhad_) July 7, 2017
Attacks are occurring throughout Egypt:
— Watani Paper (@Watanipaper) July 3, 2017
— Mina مينا (@Minaism) July 8, 2017
— World Watch Monitor (@wwmonitor) July 7, 2017
The campaign has been going on all year long:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 14, 2017
Attacks on Egypt's Copts are becoming so commonplace that they no longer interest Western audiences. https://t.co/CUs0eFtuG6
— Foreign Affairs (@ForeignAffairs) June 21, 2017
— Eric Trager (@EricTrager18) June 23, 2017
Since the suicide bombing of the church in the cathedral compound in Cairo last December, nearly 100 have been killed in three suicide bombing attacks on churches and the bus massacre of Coptic pilgrims at the beginning of Ramadan in May — all attacks claimed by the Islamic State:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 26, 2017
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) December 11, 2016
Cairo Cathedral Bombing Killing 25 During Church Service Fits a Familiar Pattern https://t.co/Xc9ODRGSoj
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) December 11, 2016
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 9, 2017
As I’ve reported here at PJ Media, Egyptian authorities have stopped at least two other attacks, one targeting a monastery in Assiut in April, and another last month at a church in Alexandria:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) June 25, 2017
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 12, 2017
Attacks on the Coptic Christians are incited by the Muslim Brotherhood:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 29, 2017
And the media:
— Al-Monitor (@AlMonitor) July 8, 2017
Egypt has the largest Christian community in the Middle East — more than all the other countries combined. Those other Christian communities in the Middle East and Africa also remain under siege:
This religious minority is fleeing their historical homelands in record numbers https://t.co/SHJhJujjcO
— Asia Times (@asiatimesonline) July 6, 2017
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) June 27, 2017
— Iraqi Christian Foundation (@iraqschristians) July 3, 2017
— Iraqi Christian Foundation (@iraqschristians) June 18, 2017
— IDC (@indefchristians) June 27, 2017
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) June 28, 2017
Shabaab jihadists "went house to house searching for non-Muslim men…before beheading" nine of them.https://t.co/Cx1qkE4vRu
— Thomas Joscelyn (@thomasjoscelyn) July 8, 2017
An estimate of Christians killed for their faith in 2016 that will be released shortly will report that nearly 100,000 were killed.
With attacks increasing this year, the suffering among the world’s most widely persecuted faith continues.