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World News

Signs of change for persecuted Christians in Eritrea as 27 believers freed from prison

The government of Eritrea has set free 27 Christian prisoners, most of whom have been behind bars for more than ten years.  

It is understood that the group comprises of 19 men and eight women, who were jailed at a prison close to Eritrea’s capital Asmara.  

This follows the release of 22 Methodist prisoners in July from another prison, mainly women and children. 

Last month, the Eritrean authorities announced they were releasing some Pentecostal Christians, among others, in a move to prevent the spread of coronavirus in their overcrowded jails.  

Andrew Boyd, spokesperson for Release International, a charity which supports persecuted Christians, tells Premier he hopes this is the beginning of a trend: “There is something of a change here, these are positive indications, whether or not they are driven by coronavirus.” 

According to Release International, Christian prisoners in the country, are often imprisoned indefinitely in appalling conditions.  

Eritrea maintains tight control over faith. In 2002, almost all forms of religion were outlawed, except for Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran Church.

Christians who worship in unregistered churches are regarded as enemies of the state. 

“Our message to the government of Eritrea is that this is a good sign. We are glad that is happening, keep It up. Let them all go because [the Eritrean] constitution guarantees no discrimination and grants full freedom of faith to its citizens” Boyd added. 

He believes that it is important for Christians to pray for the Eritrean leader: “There are suggestions that there are people in high places who are praying for President Afwerki, that’s something we can pray into and that is worth encouraging.” 

 

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