Mass Arrest of Christians in Eritrea
By Michael Ireland, Correspondent, ASSIST News Service, January 6, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- Eritrean officials arrested 30 Christians for praying at a private house in Asmara, the capital on January 2. Some of the Christians were only recently released after being detained for their faith.

International Christian Concern (ICC) -- -- has learned that Security officials arrested the Christians and took them to police station one in Asmara. Officials also detained another Christian on January 4. ICC says the detained Christians are members of the Philadelphia Church, an evangelical church outlawed in Eritrea.

In a media release, ICC explains that several churches have been forced to go underground in Eritrea since 2002 when officials required all religious groups to register. The officials only registered four religious groups: Islam, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea.

ICC also stated that in Eritrea, more than 3,000 Christians have been detained for their faith in Christ. Most of them are kept in underground dungeons, metal shipping containers, and military barracks. Several Christians have died while imprisoned due to torture and lack of medical attention.

ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said, "Imprisoning citizens for holding a prayer meeting is not only deplorable but also against the basic rights of citizens to peacefully enjoy their religious freedom.

"We urge Eritrea to immediately release Christians who have been imprisoned for practicing their faith. We urge Christians throughout the world to pray for their Eritrean brothers and sisters and help them in this difficult time."