Eritrean Christians Celebrating the Release of 69 Fellow Believers from Prison are Arrested

Dr Berhane Asmelash (left) with former UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Release International can confirm a total of 69 Christian prisoners of faith have now been released in Eritrea – while five more have been arrested.

Release partners are not naming the Christians for their own safety. They say they have been released on bail, which could be forfeited if they attempted to leave the country.

Many are long-term prisoners. One has been behind bars for 16 years. None has ever been sent to trial.

When news of their release broke in Eritrea, many Christians took to the streets to celebrate – prompting another round of arrests.  The authorities seized five women who stepped outside to pray and rejoice at the news.

‘These were mothers,’ says Release International’s Eritrean partner, Dr Berhane Asmelash. ‘One is a mother of five, another the mother of four. They were cheering from the roadside – and arrested on the spot.’

Given these latest arrests, Dr Berhane fears it could be premature to hope for a change of heart or softening of policy towards Christians in Eritrea. He now considers it unlikely that more prisoner releases could follow.

‘We have been here before,’ he adds, ‘many times. We don’t see any change in government policy. God is the only hope for our country. Keep praying.’

And the Release partner is sceptical that the current releases are linked, as reported, with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Eritrea’s overcrowded prisons.

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SOURCE: Assist News