2019 WORLD WATCH LIST NO. 7ERITREA
World Watch List:07
Leader:President Isaias Afwerki
Government:Authoritarian Presidential Regime
Source of Persecution:Dictatorial Paranoia
370 Christians arrested
In Eritrea, everything is done to avoid major social upheavals and conflict. Those who are thought to be threats to the nation’s stability are detained and treated harshly. It is estimated that Eritrea has over 300 official and unofficial sites where more than 20,000 people are held in detention without trial and without contact to the outside world. It is not known how many of them are Christians as many have died due to torture and denial of medical attention. Over the years, thousands of Christians have been arrested and detained; 370 believers were arrested last year. Prisoners are made to work for very long hours, and are imprisoned in miserable conditions, some of them in shipping containers.
Owning a Bible means jail
Only the Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran church, as well as Sunni Islam are recognized religious groups. It is illegal to join an unrecognized group. State security forces can search any private residence without a warrant, and they do so on a regular basis to find any such persons. They particularly look out for underground Christians at prayer. Private possession of a Bible, Christian books, or a t-shirt with a quote from the Bible is treason and will lead to arbitrary detention without trial.
Christians who left the long-standing Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC) for other denominations face further opposition from the EOC, who does not regard other denominations as legitimate. Believers from a Muslim background also face severe persecution from their families, especially in the lowlands where the majority of the population is Muslim.
OPEN DOORS IN ERITREA
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the Persecuted Church in Eritrea through:
• Practical assistance
• Encouraging positive engagement on behalf of the church
• A great deal of pressure comes from President Isaias Afewerki and his ruling government. Pray that the president would find true life and fulfilment in Christ.
• For endurance for our brother and sisters imprisoned under horrific conditions, and that they might be lights to their captors in the midst of it all.
• Pray that the Holy Spirit would comfort Eritrean refugees who have fled the country due to the high levels of persecution and violence