The 11 women and 24 men, all members of unregistered Christian churches, were mostly young people not in leadership positions. Although all of them had signed a statement four and a half years ago, promising to no longer attend meetings at unregistered churches, officials continued to hold them in detention without cause.
It is unknown why they were released at this point. Greg Musselman, Minister at Large for The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, speculates that it could have something to do with Eritrea’s move to rebuild its relationship with Ethiopia. “Regardless of the motivation, it’s a good thing,” he explains. “We pray that many more followers of Jesus will soon be released from prison and reunited with their families.”
Hundreds of Christians remain imprisoned in Eritrea for their faith; some for as long as 20 years. Prison conditions in Eritrea are often horrendous, leading to permanent disability or death for those being held.
Sources: World Watch Monitor, Mission Network News, Asmarino Independent, The Voice of the Martyrs Canada