Eric Leijenaar, BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent with BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
ASMARA, ERITREA (BosNewsLife)-- Three elderly Christian men have been released on bail from a military prison camp and police facility in Eritrea, Christian rights investigators confirmed Friday, March 20.
The physical condition of the three Christians, who are all in their 80s, was not immediately clear, said Netherlands-based Open Doors, a Christian advocacy group investigating reports of persecution.
Open Doors told BosNewsLife that two men, arrested in November, were jailed in Mitire-camp, a military concentration camp in northeastern Eritrea, where many Christians are are believed to be detained.
"There are some 360 prisoners held in Mitire, many of them in underground prisons or shipping containers, without enough food and medical care," Open Doors said.
A third Christian was released after being held at a police station for some six months, the group said.
Their detention has been linked to Christian activities. Since May 2002 only the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman-Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church are allowed, altough even there some church leaders have complained of alleged harassment by authorities.
"Especially Bible believing Christians who want to actively share their faith with others are arrested," Open Doors said. "Most of them are members of banned evangelical or Protestant movements."
Open Doors and other rights groups have suggested that persecution continues with reports that nearly 3,000 Christians have been detained across the country in what they describe as "horrible circumstances."
Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki and his government have denied authorities are involved in the persecution of Christians.
"These accusations are groundless. They are part of a routine allegation due to a lack of knowledge or done in the interest of smearing this country. So-called human rights groups pick up anything on the internet and give arbitrary figures," the president's office said.