ERITREA – Prayer Vigil For Christians as Arrests Continue

Release and other religious rights campaigners are holding a prayer vigil outside the Eritrean Embassy in London this Thursday on behalf of persecuted Christians in Eritrea.

As recently as last week, 65 more Christians were arrested in this East African nation in what Release partners describe as an ongoing crackdown on the 
Eritrean church.

Scores of arrests were reported in the first few weeks of this year in Asmara, the capital, and in the town of Nakfa in eastern Eritrea (Prayer Alert, 
January 20, 2011).
The latest estimates suggest that about 1,500 Christians are detained for their faith in Eritrea, often in appalling conditions. 

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)'s recently published annual report for 2011 describes the religious freedom situation in Eritrea as 'grave'. The USCIRF again designates Eritrea as a 'country of particular concern' – a designation it has held since 2004.

As well as facing religious rights abuses, Eritrean Christians are also caught up in another human rights scandal – the trafficking of people trying to flee 

Hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have fled their homeland, mostly to Ethiopia, Egypt and eastern Sudan. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that 
increasingly large numbers are claiming religious persecution in Eritrea and Pentecostal Christians reportedly make up a large percentage of these refugees.

Release Eritrea, a partner of Release, says it is increasingly concerned that these refugees are prey to ruthless traffickers who are accused of abuse, 
enslavement or even murder.

Release International will be joined by seven other organisations meeting to pray outside the Eritrean Embassy on Thursday. They will present a letter to the 
Ambassador calling for greater religious freedom.

On the same day, MEPs in Brussels will be attending a special Hearing on Freedom of Religion or Belief in the European Parliament. The hearing comes in 
response to the Parliament's concerns over ongoing religious persecution in many countries, including Eritrea.
(Sources: Release Eritrea, The European Parliament, UNHCR, USCIRF)
• Continue to pray for Christians in Eritrea, amid ongoing persecution. Pray that they will know God as their refuge and their strength.

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