ERITREA: Over 400 Christians now imprisoned

At least 400 members of evangelical churches in Eritrea are known to be imprisoned for their faith, including more than 70 soldiers held under severe conditions for over two years at the Assab Military Prison.

Amomg those imprisoned are Full Gospel Church pastors Rev. Haile Naizgi (pictured) and Dr. Kiflu Gebremeske, and Pastor Tesfatsion Hagos of the Rema Evangelical Church.

They have been incarcerated in different police stations in Asmara for the past three months. However last week , it emerged that they have been transferred from their police station cells in the capital of Asmara to an unknown location.

Since the last week of May, the pastors have been imprisoned without charges and refused any personal contact with their families, who have been given no reason for their arrests.

Local evangelicals who visited the wives of Naizgi and Gebremeske last week said they found them “in distress and deep sadness over the sudden disappearance of their husbands.”

Over the past three years, 11 former government ministers, 14 journalists and thousands of other political dissidents have been detained and incarcerated in secret locations by the regime of President Issayas Afewerki, who now rules Eritrea by fiat. These prisoners’ families have no information whether they are dead or alive.

Eritrean authorities closed down all the congregations of what the government considers ‚Äúreligious sects‚Äù in May 2002, ordering the military police to forcibly prevent their meetings, whether in church buildings or private homes. The state only recognises four major religions — the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches and Islam. (Compass)