ERITREA: Vigil at Embassy highlights persecution

Yesterday in London, Christians from Ireland joined British and Eritrean Christians in a united demonstration at the Eritrean Embassy. Holding banners and placards aloft, they prayed, sang and chanted about the continuing imprisonment without trial of 2,000 innocent Christians. The vigil was jointly organised by Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release Eritrea! and CCFC.

There are currently around 2000 Christians imprisoned without charge or trial for their faith in Eritrea. Many of these prisoners have faced severe mistreatment, including being held in solitary confinement in metal shipping containers in the desert.

The vigil was timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the decision by the Eritrean government to ban all independent churches. During the vigil, there were times of prayer for Christians who are currently imprisoned; their families and Christians who are forced to meet in secret. The plight of desperate Eritrean refugees who have fled the country was also remembered. There was also a session of prayer for President Isaias Afewerki and his government.

The vigil concluded with the joint presentation of a letter to the Embassy by leaders of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release Eritrea! and CCFC. The letter to the Ambassador included the following appeal:

We would like to emphasise again that the Christians who have been targeted for arrest and imprisonment by your government are loyal Eritrean citizens who only wish to pracise their faith and make a positive contribution to Eritrean society.

We therefore urge you to use your good offices to ensure the release of all Christian prisoners of conscience, and restore basic human rights and fundamental freedoms to the Eritrean citizenry as a matter of urgency.