Tens of Eritrean Christians Arrested During Wedding Ceremony

Image by Paul Kral from Pixabay

It was revealed in a report by Eritrea Hub that, in late June 2020, a peaceful wedding ceremony taking place in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, was ambushed by local security forces, and 30 Eritrean Christians from various “unregistered denominations” were arrested, rounded up, and transported to a police station by the name of Kalai Medeber.

This is not the first time that a substantial group of Eritrean Christians have been detained en masse during a wedding. A whopping 15 years ago, in 2005, 67 Evangelical Christians- including the bride and groom- were arrested at a wedding ceremony in the small town of Barentu. The prisoners, which reprehensibly included young children and the elderly, were transported to the Sawa Military Training Center where they were imprisoned in metal shipping containers.

It is extremely concerning that even after nearly two decades, religious freedom has not been restored to Eritrean religious communities, particularly Christians. Although the Eritrean government has historically recognized Evangelical Christianity as one of the nation’s only four legal religious communities, Evangelical Christians remain one of the largest targets of religious persecution at the hands of the Eritrean government. According to Eritrea Hub:

“Known for being one of the most repressive regimes in the world, the Government of Eritrea is notorious for the arbitrary detention and indefinite incarceration of thousands of prisoners of conscience of all faiths. These acts of arbitrary imprisonments include that of hundreds of Christians detained since a crackdown which began in May 2002 with the government effectively banning all religious practices not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox Christian denominations and Sunni Islam.”

For more information on religious persecution, click here to view Open Doors’ 2020 Country Dossier on Eritrea. You may also click here to view USCIRF’s chapter on Eritrea in its 2020 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.