Two Pentecostal Christians are reported to have died in Eritrea on 17 March, days after being transferred to a hospital from detention, where they had been on hunger strike.

According to the Eritrean website Erimedrek News, the two women, who were detained in Wi’a military camp, were transported to Massawa Hospital in critical condition on 12 March. They had embarked on a hunger strike in protest at the abuse they were receiving in detention, and their bodies were allegedly marked with bruising consistent with sexual abuse.

Once at the hospital, the women were reportedly kept in isolation and guarded in shifts by security personnel. Following their deaths, military commanders confiscated their medical cards.

Reports have also emerged of the arrests of a significant number of Christians on Christmas Eve 2016 in the capital city Asmara, after they had been caught praying. They were allegedly transported barefoot to an unknown location.

The Eritrean government is one of the most repressive in the world. Thousands of prisoners of conscience are detained arbitrarily for indefinite periods of time in unsatisfactory facilities where conditions are life threatening and torture is rife. A campaign of arrests targeting selected religious communities has been ongoing since 2002, when the government effectively outlawed all practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox Christian denominations and Sunni Islam.

In its June 2016 report, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (COIE) found “reasonable grounds to believe” that crimes against humanity have been committed by state officials in a “widespread and systematic manner” since 1991, including the crimes of persecution against religious groups, and rape, repeated rape, and gang rape by detention officials.

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

  • Pray for those grieving the loss of these two women. May they take comfort in the knowledge they are now safe with the Lord, without pain, sorrow or fear.
  • May the deaths of these two Christian women not be in vain but may be used by the Lord to highlight evil practices within the prison system and bring change. Pray He will release the captives in Eritrea.
  • Pray for wisdom for church leaders as they strive to carry out the Great Commission in this repressive nation.

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