Arrests and Harassment of Christians

Persecution in Eritrea continued this week. Strategic World Impact (SWI) sent a request for prayer on Tuesday January 18, 2005 for a staff member arrested in Eritrea. This was the second time of arrest for this staff member in the past few weeks. He is held in police detention with no other information available. In our newsletter of January 9th we highlighted arrests and detentions of many Christians on New Years for illegal religious gatherings. The situation in Eritrea is becoming critical as the crackdown intensifies.

On Friday SWI issued news that 3 more Eritrean Christians were arrested and all were members of the Full Gospel Church of Eritrea. Pastor Kidane Gebremeskel, youth
pastor Abraham Belay and Fanieal Tesfa Mariam were detained in unknown locations. The news report stated that 200 Christians have been arrested this year alone and 555 are currently paying the price for their faith. The release asked for prayers to be mobilized for this situation in Eritrea. President ISAIAS Afworki is the leader of Eritrea and rules unopposed. The crackdown has been related to the United States designation of Eritrea as a country of particular concern

Prayer Points
Pray that God would open up the eyes and ears of President Afworki to see the necessity of freeing the children of God and hear the Word of the Lord realizing how blessed is the nation whose god is the Lord. Pray for the four Christians arrested this week. Pray that Jesus would be in their midst protecting and comforting them. Pray that He would defend them and cause favor to be shown to them while in detention. Pray for the many Christians who are in detention at this moment. Some are held captive in shipping containers and denied basic necessities. Pray that the Holy Spirit would touch them and give them an unshakable faith that would witness to their captors. Pray for the international community to sense a conviction to assist in this matter. Pray that men and women of courage would stand up and call out truth to this horrible persecution of Christians, and hold those responsible, accountable


Eritrea Jails 16 for Watching Home Video
U.S. Touts Diplomatic Progress on Religious Freedom Issues

(March 18, 2005) -- Last Sunday evening, Eritrean security police arrested 16 Protestants for watching a Christian video together in the town of Adi-Kibe. The 16 members of Kale Hiwot Church were put under custody at the local police station. On Monday, two older women in the group were released after paying fines, but the other 14 remain jailed, although no official charges have been filed against them. The small nation in northeast Africa was added to the U.S. State Department's list of "countries of particular concern" last September for its flagrant violations of religious freedom. Eritrean officials categorically deny ever-increasing reports of the harsh government crackdown underway against Protestant churches.


Appeasing Al Turabi (Jihadist)

The reason I brought Hassan al-Turabi in my article is that every time I hear or see attacks perpetrated by cold-blooded fanatics on innocent people, my mind wonders to the architects behind this dreadful acts.

The forerunners of fundamentalism – from the early days of Janal al-Din al-Afgani, Hassan al-Bana, Sayyid Qutb, to the present day protagonists – Al Turabi, Al-Zarkawi and Bin Laden – have a very clear theocractic message. Islamic power should prevail at any cost in this world; plain and simple. How do you achieve this is an open secret.

I feel sick in my stomach when I hear experts on terrorism and mid east politics linking all fundamentalist attacks to the cause of Palestinian and Israeli conflict. Yes, I totally denounce what the Israeli government has done and is still doing to the aspirations of the Palestinian people; however, the fanatics have hijacked their cause and the religion Islam. What does the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts has to do with the fundamentalist attacks in Indonesia, Nigeria, or Eritrea? These people will use different excuses to justify their unjustifiable savage acts. The core of their act lies on the belief that they have a duty to execute god’s verdict on unbelievers and apostates.

The attacks on London sub ways and buses, the soft targets, aimed at unarmed innocent people – whites, blacks, Christians, Moslems, Hindu, and Jews is very appalling and has to be condemned by all means. They have managed to create chaos and anguish not only among the Londoners but also the good-hearted people all over the world. The focus and inertia of the G8 summit on aid to Africa and global warming has been shifted and slowed down.

Ironically, London is the hub of a cocktail of ultra fanatic Moslem ordinaries and scholars who openly praised the 9-11 attack on USA; called the terrorists “The Magnificent 19.” Yet, the government and people were not very critical on the fundamentalists stand. The notorious Mullah, Abu-Hamza, who left one eye and a hand in Afghanistan in the 80s, openly preaches hate and violence in broad daylight. I don’t know to this day why they let him do what he likes to do. He and others have been abusing the tenets of democracy, leaving behind freedom of speech. Instead of thanking the British people for giving him sanctuary, they persistently feed their followers with seeds of toxic hate and violence. When fundamentalist teachings and emotions kick in on young minds, reasoning and judgments kick out. The source of all this ailment must be nipped from the bud.

I was outraged when I read news about Eritrea’s Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) secretary congratulating Al-Turabi on his recent release from prison. Yes, I’m na´ve in politics; and they say the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Give me a break! Al-Turabi was and still is behind the Muslim Power ideology. An inspirational figure for many would be Taqfir wal Hijira . His Jihadist party has committed atrocities, summary executions, torture of southerners, and moderate Moslems. His associate, Osama bin-Laden, public enemy numero uno , made Sudan as his base to recruit and launch attacks on Eritrea and neighboring countries. Turabi’s dream of Islamic states for the Horn of Africa failed to materialize not because he repented and washed his sins on Bahr al-Nil but the perseverance of the Sudanese People struggle for their freedom and the watchful eye of the international community that created a fissure in the ranks of the Sudanese jihadists.

Instead of congratulatory messages and appeasement, our government should take him accountable for all the misery, and convoluted creed he brought to the Horn of Africa. Al-Turabi’s National Islamic Front (NIF) will remain Islamist regardless of the cosmetic change of their party’s name they have these days. There is a saying which goes something like this:” those who fight on a tigers back end up in his stomach.” I tell PFDJ not to ride NIF because this is cheap politics.

Senai Zemenfes


ERITREA: Government rejects religious report

07 Dec 2005 13:59:09 GMT

Source: IRIN

NAIROBI, 7 December (IRIN) - The Eritrean government has rejected a claim by Amnesty International (AI) that it engages in religious persecution.

In an AI report released on Wednesday entitled, "Eritrea: Religious Persecution", the agency accuses the Horn of Africa nation of denying people their right to freedom of religion.

The report maintains many people in the country are detained and subjected to physical punishment - including having their hands and feet tied together behind their backs for hours - on the basis of their religious beliefs.

"We do not want to dignify this politicised report disguised in the name of defending religious freedom, but I can tell you that Eritrea is one of the very few countries in the world where there has been no religious conflict," said Ali Abdu, Eritrea's acting minister of information.

"Eritrea enjoys religious harmony, and we want to maintain that harmony," he added.

The report documents 44 incidents of religious persecution since 2003. Most of those who were allegedly victimised do not belong to an officially recognised faith.

Religious freedom is enshrined in international law. Since 2002, however, the Eritrean government has ordered all unregistered religions to close their places of worship until they were registered. Only four main religions are recognised as official faiths: the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches and Islam. No minority religion has succeeded in registering since the measures were enacted.

"In the last 3 years, at least 26 pastors and priests, some 1,750 evangelical church members, and dozens of Muslims have been detained by the government. Many have been tortured and churches have been shut down," the AI report said.

"All those detained for their religious beliefs must be released immediately. The situation is critical and we are extremely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of hundreds of people facing this reality in Eritrea," said Kolawole Olaniyan, director of AI's Africa programme, in the report.

Eritrea has a population of around 3.6 million, of whom about half are Sunni Muslims and 40 percent Orthodox Christian. There are small numbers of Roman Catholics, Protestants, Seventh-day Adventists and 1,500 Jehovah's Witnesses, according to the US State Department.

The AI report stated that 22 Jehovah's Witnesses are amongst those currently being detained.