Systematic arrests in Eritrea aggressively target minority faith
ASMARA, Eritrea—In what is the most open attempt in recent history to shut down a minority religion in Eritrea, police have systematically arrested 15 elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses during July and August. Some of them are presently confirmed to be imprisoned, but the whereabouts of others have not been disclosed.
On Tuesday, July 8, 2008, authorities conducted a raid on the local office Jehovah’s Witnesses use for organizing their work. Equipment used for translating and printing was confiscated. Long-time members of the congregations, men in their 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s, were subsequently rounded up in their homes or places of work. In most cases these are the breadwinners for their families.
As of May 2008, there were 21 other Jehovah’s Witnesses who have remained in prison in Eritrea. False hopes of progress were raised when one of them, Ghebrenigus Habte, was released on May 31. The events of recent weeks prove that such hope was premature—the number of prisoners has since nearly doubled.
Contact in USA: Gregory Allen, Associate General Counsel
Contact in Europe: Marcel Gillet, European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Telephone +32 2 782 0015