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Church leaders urge Eritrean government to improve human rights

by Kelly Valencia

Church leaders in the UK and Ireland have come together to urge the Eritrean government to address the human rights crisis as the country celebrates the 31st anniversary of its independence.

In a joint letter, the Eritrean Ambassador in the UK, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Church in Chains (Ireland), the Eritrean Orthodox Church in the UK, Human Rights Concern-Eritrea and Release said they were “saddened” that many Eritrean citizens were still not enjoying “the full dividends of independence for which so much was sacrificed by so many”.

“May also marks the 20th year since most of the nation’s Christian denominations were proscribed.  We remain concerned at the continuing unjust, arbitrary, and indefinite detention of tens of thousands of Eritrean citizens in harsh conditions, including hundreds of Christians imprisoned solely on account of their faith,” the letter continued.

Two years ago, the Eritrean government outlawed all practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox Christian denominations and Sunni Islam, and began targeting unsanctioned denominations and the officially-sanctioned religious communities.

It’s understood tens of thousands of Eritreans are currently detained without charge or trial across the country.

The letter continued: “We urge you, therefore, to use your good offices to encourage your government to release every prisoner of conscience unconditionally, to withdraw Eritrean forces from Ethiopia, and to use Eritrea’s current term on the UN Human Rights Council to cooperate with its special procedures to address the nation’s human rights crisis.”

CSW’s CEO Scot Bower said: “We reiterate our commitment to standing in solidarity with the Eritrean people until every prisoner of conscience has been released and every citizen is free to enjoy all of the rights and freedoms afforded to them under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is party.”


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