Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

More Mahalians released from prison – December 13th

Church in Chains, November 30th, 2023 (excerpts)

Over eighty young Christians who belong to the Mahalians praise group have been released from Mai Serwa prison in recent months. The young people (most of them in their early 20s) were arrested in April in the capital Asmara where they had gathered to record a praise video.

Following their arrest, the young people were pressurised by prison guards to sign statements that they would not gather together for Christian meetings. Such pressure is commonly brought against Christian prisoners in Eritrea and while some prisoners have steadfastly refused to sign such statements, despite torture, others have taken the view that signing under duress is not binding. 

News of the release of some of the Mahalian prisoners first emerged at a conference in Dublin in September, when the keynote speaker Dr Berhane Asmelash told delegates that about fifty of the group had recently been released. Since then, more have been freed – generally in small groups of between three and ten and it is hoped that the remaining twenty young people being held in prison will be released in coming weeks.

The activities of the Mahalians praise group were no secret as they posted a praise video in 2022 on YouTube. Members of the group were drawn from several Christian denominations, united by a desire to gather together to sing and record worship songs.

Although there has been no change in government policy towards Christians, hundreds of Christian prisoners have been released in the past three months and fewer  Christians have been arrested during the same period.