|Eritrea: Corruption, Paranoia and Religious Persecution|
|Thursday, 20 October 2011 00:33|
The anti-religion policy of the Eritrean government has taken yet another sinister and ominous turn.
ICFC has received reports from inside Eritrea that corruption and greed among members of the ruling party in Eritrea and the military establishment has become the driving force for a renewed campaign of persecution against people of faith.
Many people are being arrested and kept in Eritrea’s notorious prisons, unofficial detention centers and in military barracks across the country. What makes this new campaign alarming is that these corrupt officials are using the anti-religion policy for which the government of Eritrea is so well known to line their pockets through elaborate extortion schemes. Suspected persons of faith are being held for ransom.
The government is also using fear amongst the population so that they can spy on each other. The familiar refrain in the government’s relentless propaganda on the radio, television and the print media it monopolizes is that the CIA is trying to overthrow the regime; that all the Christian denominations and others which it has banned and is violently suppressing are funded by the CIA to supposedly destabilize Eritrea.
The shrill, anti-US and anti-Christian hysteria is also sent on cable television targeting the Diaspora. This is the same line of argument the regime’s agents in the Diaspora are also peddling.
As the government attempts to create a paranoia-driven siege mentality, the populace in Asmara is now being encouraged to spy and report on their neighbors. Calling citizens to “kebele”(neighborhood) meetings, the regime is encouraging citizens to report on anyone they suspect to be having prayer meetings in their houses.
Meanwhile, Eritreans in their thousands are bolting out of the country at increasingly greater risk to their lives.
Many are leaving because of the intolerant religious persecution they face.
The government of Eritrea has received world-wide condemnation for its savage persecution of Christians and others.
Eritrea is one of 8 countries listed by the US State Department as CPC Countries of Particular Concern for its flagrant abuse and persecution of Christians. Many churches have been ordered closed since May 2002. Nearly 3500 Christians are languishing in prisons. Tens of thousands have fled the country. Scores of church leaders, including the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church and priests, remain in prison.
SACS once again calls for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience and the restoration of the rights of Eritreans to worship.