By Eric Leijenaar, BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent
AMSTERDAM/ASMARA (BosNewsLife)– Eritrea’s government has launched a fresh crackdown on Christians with reports that at least 110 evangelical believers have been detained since last week, a well-informed rights group said Wednesday, November 26.
Netherlands-based Open Doors told BosNewsLife the Christians were arrested “in all parts of the country” except for the capital, Asmara.
Open Doors, which has been in close contacts with Christians in Eritrea, said names of Christians were apparently given to authorities by informants who infiltrated churches in the African nation.
Those detained include 65 members of the evangelical Kale Hewet Church, who were taken into custody in the towns of Barentu and Dekemhare, Open Doors said.
In the towns of Keren and Mendefera some 25 members of the Full Gospel Church were detained, while in Mendefera en Adi-Kuala police arrested about 20 members of the Church of the Living God, Open Doors said, citing its own Christian sources.
“Reliable sources expect the arrests to continue for some time across the country,”the group said. It was not clear if the detainees were transported to a new military “concentration camp” known as Mitire, which has been set up to accommodate Christians, Open Doors added. “This military camp is infamous because of the extreme heat,” it said.
Already some 2,000 Christians are detained in Eritrea, including in controversial prisons, police buildings, military camps and even containers. “Some have been held for years without a fair trial,” Open Doors stressed.
The troubles began in 2002 when Eritrean authorities banned non-traditional churches, and only allowed the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches to operare. “Protestant churches have tried without success to be registered,” Open Doors said.
Eritrea’s government has denied rights abuses and says the law is aimed to protect the country against dangerous sects and negative foreign influence.