Church Leaders Welcome US Report On Religious Freedom Violations In Eritrea
Washington, D.C. (September 15, 2011) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a report by the US government once again cites Eritrea as a Country of Particular Concern because of “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” These severe violations include thousands who remain under detention and reports of Christians who have been tortured to death.
According to the 2010 report issued on Tuesday by the International Religious Freedom Office of the State Department, Eritrean officials “regularly harassed, arrested, and detained members of registered and unregistered religious groups.”
An Eritrean church leader interviewed by ICC welcomed the report and urged the US government to take actions to alleviate the plight of Eritrean Christians. The church leader said, “It is the sincere hope of all those who have been exposing the extreme religious persecution in Eritrea for the State Department to undertake serious punitive measures against the regime."
Another church leader told ICC that “there is no freedom of religion in Eritrea. The ruling clique decides what religion you must adhere to. Christians, including the Head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, are languishing in prison just because of their conscience and faith. Christians have been arrested, tortured and killed.”
The recently leaked US embassy cable published by Wikileaks confirms the plight of Christian and other prisoners in Eritrea. The report , citing a former prisoner, said, “Prisoners were fed two pieces of bread three times a day…Many prisoners could not talk due to the lack of water, their tongues stuck to the roofs of their mouth from thirst.”
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said, “The report by the State Department confirms what we have been saying for years about Eritrea. We have repeatedly exposed egregious violations of the rights of Christians to worship freely. The government of Eritrea has disregarded calls for respecting the religious freedom of its citizens. How long will the international community ignore the plight of thousands of Eritrean Christians who are suffering for choosing to exercise their fundamental religious freedom?”