September 8 (Compass Direct News) – Newly compiled statistics smuggled out of Eritrea indicate that at least 1,918 Eritrean citizens are imprisoned and being subjected to torture and forced labor because of their religious beliefs.And in accordance with Islamic law, none of those who have been arrested and are being held in jail have received a trial or any kind of hearing. Some of these people have been held for over four years without a trial.
According to a detailed list obtained by Compass last month, 95 percent of these known religious prisoners of conscience are Christians.
A total of 35 pastors, priests and church elders are confirmed under arrest in Asmara’s Wongel Mermera investigation center. An additional 1,758 Christians of both evangelical Protestant and Orthodox confessions are jailed in 14 other cities and towns.
According to reports compiled by Compass, 163 of these Christian prisoners have been put under arrest since the beginning of 2006. As many as a fourth of all those jailed are believed to have been incarcerated for two years or more.
Additionally, 69 Muslims are being held in Wongel Mermera for opposing the government-appointed mufti. They include Taha Mohammed Noor, a founding member of the Eritrean Liberation Front in 1961 and a member of the Islamic Awqaf (religious foundation).
Arrested in Asmara on November 25, 2005, Noor reportedly has refused under torture to accept government interference with the religious affairs of Eritrean Muslims, who constitute half of the population.
None of those imprisoned for their religious beliefs in the government crackdown begun more than four years ago have been brought before a court of law to be charged or tried.Ahhh, the peace, tolerance, and wisdom of Islam.
According to the latest breakdown, 475 Christians are jailed at Wi’a, 250 at Sawa (including 50 students arrested from Mai Nefhee Academy last May), 192 at Dongoloi Ai Ai, 130 at Mai-Serwa, 78 at Adi-Abyto, 55 in Sembel Prison, 155 in various Asmara police stations, 37 in the Keren police station, 22 in the Mendefera police station, 115 at Assab, 97 at Gelalo, 21 in the Dekemhare police station, 56 in the Adi-Kualaa police station, and 75 in the Massawa police station.
During August still another 29 Protestant Christians were arrested in the cities of Asmara, Keren and Massawa, according to the London-based Release Eritrea organization.
Ten evangelicals attending a home prayer meeting in Asmara’s Edaga Arbi district were arrested on August 17, Release Eritrea reported on August 25. In similar raids in the cities of Keren and Massawa earlier in the month, Eritrean police jailed another 15 and 4 people, respectively.
The only known releases in recent weeks occurred in Wi’a, where a reported handful among the hundreds of Christian soldiers in a military jail were set free after signing statements to recant their evangelical beliefs.
Read the whole thing to see what else they are doing.