A number of human rights groups have joined forces to protest the oppression of religion in Eritrea. With the usual yearly protest taking place outside the Eritrean embassy in London, this year the groups have had to think creatively about how to get their message out to the masses.
The online meeting will feature an hour-long prayer time, with contributions from CSW, Church in Chains (Ireland), the Eritrean Orthodox Church in the UK, Human Rights Concern-Eritrea and Release Eritrea.
The country has been a long-time repressor of religious certain activities. In March 2002, the Eritrean government effectively outlawed all practices not associated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox Christian denominations and Sunni Islam and began a brutal crackdown on unsanctioned denominations.
According to CSW, tens of thousands of Eritreans are currently detained without charge or trial in life-threatening conditions in more than 300 sites across the country. Some have been in detention for decades on account of their religious beliefs.
In a statement issued on 2nd April, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Daniela Kravetz, noted that “in 2019 alone, more than 200 individuals were imprisoned because of their faith.”
CSW’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We may be on lockdown, but we will not be silenced. For the 17th year in a row, we will be protesting the severe repression of freedom of religion or belief in Eritrea, which a UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea has deemed a crime against humanity, and the ongoing detention of Christians without due process for peacefully practicing their faith.
"We will continue calling on the Eritrean authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, including those detained on account of their religious beliefs, and will stand in solidarity with the Eritrean people until every prison door is opened and all who have been detained unjustly are set free.”