Church in Chains, 26 May 2022 (excerpts)
Christians from Britain and elsewhere joined together for an online vigil to mark the 20th anniversary of the closure of churches by the Eritrean government in May 2002.
The decision to close all churches – apart from the Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches – marked the beginning of the persecution of Christians in Eritrea which has continued ever since.
Church in Chains has joined with Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the Eritrean Orthodox Church in the UK, Human Rights Concern-Eritrea and Release Eritrea in an annual vigil outside the Eritrean Embassy in London since 2005. The event moved online in 2020 (due to Covid-19).
The Church in Chains rep led the event and introduced participants. An Eritrean pastor spoke about the churches in Eritrea while an Eritrean human rights activist spoke about Christian prisoners including his own pastor, Dr Kiflu Gebremeskel. There are currently an estimated 200 known Christian prisoners in Eritrea.
The Human Rights Concern-Eritrea rep spoke about the desperate suffering of Eritrean refugees including victims of trafficking while the Christian Solidarity Worldwide rep spoke about the Tigray crisis in neighbouring Ethiopia (in which Eritrean army conscripts are fighting). Each topic was followed by prayer.
During the vigil, a joint letter from the five organisations to the Eritrean Embassy in London calling for the unconditional release of every prisoner of conscience was posted to the embassy’s Facebook page and vigil participants were encouraged to do likewise.