Eritrea (MNN)– The U.S. State Department has released its annual report on human rights. It spotlights governments who are accused of human and religious rights abuses. Once again, Eritrea is among the top 10 violators.
A flood of arrests over the last few years motivated the United States to designate Eritrea a "Country of Particular Concern," a designation reserved for countries with the worst of human rights offenses.
The ten worst offender countries are listed as: North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Eritrea and Sudan.
The problem began as a government-led rejection of any non-Orthodox Christian communities. Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton says there are over 2,000 Christians imprisoned in inhumane conditions. All have been denied legal counsel or trial, with no written charges.
Despite this open persecution, the government continues to support its statement issued in May 2003 that "no groups or persons are persecuted in Eritrea for their beliefs or religion."
And yet, "the body of Christ in Eritrea really has buckled down because of the pressure. They continue to minister, and they continue to work, although they continue to do it secretly. They have to do it very carefully, to avoid government pressure because of government watching."
But the harassment and persecution fails to stop evangelism and discipleship. Nettleton says that's because "they understand that in order to continue following Christ, they will continue to pay a price. They're ready to do that. They're willing to do that. Because of that, even in these difficult circumstances, the church is growing."
Pray that the government will stop the campaign against evangelicals and will allow freedom of religion for all.