Twenty-three arrests in Eritrea include children and elderly
ASMARA, Eritrea—Three children ranging from two to four years of age were among the latest group of 23 Jehovah’s Witnesses arrested in Eritrea. In that number is also a child of 8, a woman over 70 and another over 80.
On June 28, 2009, some 23 members of one congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Asmara were peacefully meeting together for worship. These meetings also serve to encourage and support congregation members since many have already suffered the loss of other family members who were imprisoned, several of whom were the breadwinners for their family. Most of the latest arrests are female congregation members because their husbands and sons have long since been arrested.
The total number of Jehovah’s Witnesses known to be imprisoned in Eritrea is now 69. About 20 of them are in their 60s and 70s. Since July 2008, Eritrean authorities have summarily arrested responsible members of the Witness community. Most are now in prison. Also, over the past several years, the police have often arrested people for merely attending a Witness meeting. In many cases, however, no reason for the arrest was given. This is a contrast from arrests made presumably on the basis of nonparticipation in military service. Three young men arrested on those grounds are still being held in prison nearly 15 years later, but they have never been formally charged.
Contacts in USA: J.R. Brown, Office of Public Information
Alan Gallina, Office of General Counsel for Jehovah’s Witnesses
Contact in Europe: Marcel Gillet, European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Telephone + 32 2 782 0015