Fikadu Debesay, a mother of three children, died a few weeks ago at Metkel Abiet, an Eritrean detention camp. She had been imprisoned for worshiping in a Lutheran church not recognised by the government.
She, along with her husband were among 33 believers arrested on the same day in May.
The harsh treatment Fikadu endured in the camp and the extreme desert temperatures reportedly contributed to her death.
Since May, the number of detained Christians has grown to 210. Dozens of children have been left without one or both parents resulting from these arrests.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Pray for these children to know the love, mercy and generous provision of the Lord, that they will grow in their relationship with Christ and not lose hope.
- Pray for those in the camps will hold fast to their faith and continue to be a light in the darkness.
- Ask the Lord for the release of the detained Christians, and that He may grant them the physical, emotional and spiritual strength, they need to endure.
Fikadu Debesay, who was detained with her husband in May during raids targeting Evangelical Christians in Adi Quala town, Eritrea, has died in incarceration.
The mother of three reportedly died last week in Metkel Abiet, a desert camp situated between the towns of Gahtelai and Shieb in the Northern Red Sea Region, and was buried on 10 August in Mendefera. While the cause of her death is as yet unknown, the camp where she was detained is situated in an area known for its oppressive heat and aridity.
A campaign of house to house raids targeting members of non-sanctioned churches was initiated in several towns in May this year. This marks a significant intensification of a crackdown that has been ongoing since May 2002, when the Eritrean government effectively outlawed religious practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox Christian denominations or Sunni Islam.
Arrests are occurring monthly. During the first week of August, 23 Christians were rounded up in the capital city, Asmara. In July, 16 female national service conscripts in their late teens were taken from their place of assignment in Adi Halo, a village 30km from Asmara, and detained in Metkel Abiet camp. Other Christians and family members who attempted to visit them were also imprisoned. The detainees’ hair was forcibly shaved off in what local sources describe as an additional “sign of humiliation in a society where a woman’s hair is regarded as a sign of decency and sanity”.
In an indication of the harshness of prison conditions, a woman who had been detained after being arrested at her home in Nefasit in early June is reported to have become mentally ill.
The number of Christians known to have been detained in desert camps and military facilities since May has now risen to 210. Most were detained following raids on their homes, while a few were arrested at prayer meetings. Like Fikadu Debesay, several are parents, and according to local sources, over 50 children are currently without one or both parents as a result of these raids.
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Commit to the Lord Fikadu Debesay’s husband and children. May they experience the Lord’s ministering presence and may they be comforted in the knowledge that their loved one is now with Him.
- Pray the Lord will strengthen and sustain Eritrean prisoners. Pray they will trust in God during this difficult time. Pray for their release.
- Ask God to bring change to the hearts of those in authority. Pray for conviction, true repentance and an understanding of the Gospel.
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.