UN Releases Report on Eritrea, Eritreans Ruled by Fear

Source:                www.jubileecampaign.org

Date:                    June 20, 2015

 

 

Last week on June 8th, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a 484 page report detailing the horrific human rights situation in Eritrea. The principle findings included "widespread and gross human rights violations" committed "under the authority of the Government." The report states that Eritreans are "ruled by fear."

 

The Commissioners found that citizens of Eritrea are under constant surveillance and spying, and that their freedom of movement has been restricted both internally and for those who wish to leave the country. Citizens have been repressed of their freedom of opinion, expression, assembly, association, and religion. Religion in the country is mandated by the state. Only 4 faith denominations are permitted: Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Sunni Islam. The activities of religious organizations are limited by the government, and the government continually interferes with the religious structures.Jehovah's Witnesses have been completely stripped of their citizenship, denying them of their basic rights. 

 

Christians in particular have endured grueling persecution. The report indicated that Christians are granted less rights than non-Christians. The report included a testimony from a Christian which stated, "As a Christian, I was not permitted to receive food or clothing from family members. I was also denied medical assistance when I became sick. Yet, the prison guards would give rest and medical attention to other non-Christian prisoners." 


 

Another testimony was recorded stating, "The prison officials treated the Christian community differently than non-Christian prisoners. For instance, evangelical Christians in the prison were denied access to visits from family and friends. However, other faith groups were granted the privilege of seeing their family members and receiving food items." 


 

Other statements from believers included the following:


 

"I am a Pentecostal and I was not able to live freely because of my religion.
 

"We started congregating in houses to pray. When they discovered I was doing this, I had no choice but to run away...for fear of punishment. I know other Protestants who have been imprisoned because of their religion." 


 

The report detailed conditions that various prisoners, including religious prisoners, are subject to including being detained in metal containers. One witness testimony stated that the container he was kept in was 5m x 1.50m and he shared it with 19 other detainees. During detainment the prisoners were unable to shower. The containers were lice infested and left completely dark. During the day the container would be scorching hot while extremely cold throughout the night. Detainees complained that there wasn't even enough air to breath.


 

The Voice of the Martyrs Canada reported that an estimated 2,000-3,000 Christians are in Eritrean prisons today. Many of which are held in metal shipping containers, like the one described above, with no ventilation or bathroom facilities. 


 

Eritrean citizens both in Eritrea and even abroad continually live in fear. Eritreans are subject to arbitrary arrest which the report describes as "unjust, unpredictable, unreasonable, and disproportionate." Numbers of individuals have disappeared, and when authorities are asked about their whereabouts, they respond that they do not have any information on the individual and warn those who ask to stop their inquiries.  In addition, the report details forced labor, torture, restricted access to property, and sexual violence.

 

The United Nations estimates that 5,000 Eritreans flee the country each month. However, once escaped the torment does not stop there. Eritreans outside of Eritrea are forced to pay a 2% tax, a "diaspora tax," on their income, collected by the Eritrean officials through means of "extortion, threats of violence, fraud, and other illicit means," (United Nations Security Council Resolution 2023). It has been reported that this tax has on occasion been gathered through "donations" made to the Eritrean Orthodox Church in the United States, wired to churches in Eritrea, then "donated" to the Eritrean government. For a population that has already been violated of their rights, tortured, imprisoned, and has endured other human rights violations, this "donation" is yet another form of religious persecution.


The release of the report came after the news that 88 Eritrean refugees, some of which are Christian, were kidnapped by ISIS in Libya. Many Eritrea refugees are fleeing to Libya in hopes of crossing the Mediterranean and reaching Italy.  

While the report is being prepared to be formally presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council Session on June 23rd, Jubilee Campaign has partnered with Christian Solidarity Worldwide to speak out about the situation of Eritrean refugees at the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council. 

Read Oral Statement on Non-Refoulement and Refugees  

UN report: Eritrea guilty of 'gross' human rights violations
The government of Eritrea rules its people by fear and control in a "totalitarian" state, according to a new United Nations report. Amid rampant human rights violations and religious persecution, Eritreans are fleeing the country in a wave of migration second only to the flood of Syrians trying to escape their country's bloody conflicts. Read more...

Christians Among 88 Eritrean Refugees Kidnapped by ISIS; Less Than Two Months After Mass Execution of Ethiopian Christians 

A group of Christians are among the 88 Eritrean refugees, including women and children, who've been kidnapped by terror group ISIS in Libya. The kidnapping comes less than two months after 28 Ethiopian Christian were executed by the terror group.

The Stockholm-based International Commission on Eritrean Refugees reported on Sunday that the captives were taken last week, following an ambush by the jihadists on a vehicle traveling to Tripoli. Read more...

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