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Eritrean authorities arrest 15 Christians

The Eritrean authorities have arrested 15 Christians in raids on their houses in the capital of Asmara.

All those detained have previously been imprisoned for their faith – some for up to 16 years. Many Christians in the country believed things were set to change after a number of believers were recently released.

The East African nation shuttered most of its churches in a wide-ranging crackdown back in 2002, often detaining Christians indefinitely in harsh conditions. The authorities are known to have packed them into shipping containers in the heat of the desert and even tortured them to try and force them to renounce their faith.

Those recently arrested were aged from their 20s to their 60s and were members of different churches.  

Most of them have already served sentences of between five and six years - they were released last summer, but rearrested following the discovery of a list of Christian contacts.

They have all been taken to Mai Serwa maximum-security prison in the capital.

Persecution watchdog Open Doors says that Christians who aren’t from state-approved denominations face extreme persecution. 

"Government security forces monitor phone calls, scrutinise activity and conduct countless raids which target Christians, seize Christian materials and damage house churches," the group notes. "Christians can be arrested and imprisoned without trial. Many Christians are held in inhumane prisons because of their faith, and their loved ones often do not know where they are or even if they are still alive." 

Open Doors lists Eritrea as the 6th most dangerous place on earth in which to live as a Christian. 


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