Twen is a 33 year-old Eritrean Christian, L who has been in prison since she was arrested at a prayer meeting in January 2005. She refused to sign a statement that she will not engage in Christian activities and therefore continues to be detained.
Eritrea is seen as one of the worst countries in the world for Christians to live in. President Isaias Afewerki has been in power since the country’s independence in 1993 and there have been no elections since then. His regime depends on a culture of perpetual fear through mass surveillance, compulsory long-term military service, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and killings.
The government accepts only three Christian denominations. Christians belonging to other denominations are not allowed to meet together, and are frequently arrested. There are an estimated 1,20o ooo people detained in prison on religious grounds, most of them Christians.
Once arrested, they are seldom charged or brought before a court. They are denied legal counsel and family visits, and they are not allowed to pray aloud, sing or read a Bible. Sometimes they are held in solitary confinement or even in metal shipping containers (some of them underground), and they are often abused and tortured as authorities pressure them to renounce their faith.
Many Christians feel they have no option but to flee. Around 5,000 Eritreans are escaping the country every month, many through Sudan and then Libya or Egypt in an attempt to reach Israel or European shores. The route is fraught with danger, however, and they are vulnerable to being kidnapped, exploited, and trafficked.
Lift up in prayer our brothers and sisters detained in Eritrean prisons, that they will know the presence and help of the Lord to endure. Pray that the hands of those who would abuse and torture imprisoned believers will be stayed so that no harm will come to them. Ask for genuine transformation within the political structure so that the systems of fear and violence will topple, and truth and justice will prevail. Pray also for the many thousands who have fled, that they will be protected in their escape.