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Eritrea: Frees Christian Prisoners but Attacks Churches in Tigray

More Christian prisoners of faith have been set free in Eritrea. A further 21 women prisoners have been released, making 171 Christians freed since August last year. At the same time, Eritrean forces have been accused of attacking churches in neighbouring Ethiopia – killing more than 700 civilians in what has been described as a massacre.

Eritrea outlawed most religions in 2002, when the government banned every faith other than Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran and Sunni Islam.

It's been rumoured that the latest prisoner releases may be to curry favour with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who is a Christian. Eritrea has joined forces with Ethiopia in its fight against Tigrayan rebels in the north of the country.

Tigrayans and other ethnic groups are calling for greater autonomy from Ethiopia. But the government fears ethnic divisions could lead to the break-up of the country. Ethiopia, which is militarily weak, turned to Eritrea for support to launch an attack against Tigray in November 2020. That conflict has seen armed attacks against churches and civilians. They include a massacre in the city of Axum killing up to 800, including many priests, church members, women and many children.

Eritrea has denied involvement in the fighting in Tigray, but reports say some troops in Axum identified themselves as Eritrean. Forces from Eritrea are also claimed to be hoisting their flag and distributing Eritrean identity cards to Ethiopians under their control.

There have been other documented attacks on churches in the region. According to unverified claims by Tigrayan activists, more than 1,000 priests have been killed in the violence.

Despite the prisoner releases in Eritrea, these horrific church attacks suggest it’s far too soon to suggest a change of heart towards Christianity.

Source: Release International

Pray for the Eritrean government, that they will do what is right in Making Eritrea a free religious country.

Pray for the Christians in Ethiopia and in Tigray, that they won't lose heart.

Praise God for the prison release, despite what the motives might have been.

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