Washington, D.C: December 16, 2009. International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that yesterday at 3:30 PM local time, Eritrean officials released all the Christian women they had arrested on December 5.
The elderly women were detained for praying together at a house in Asmara, Eritrea's capital. Eritrean security forces raided the prayer meeting and brought them to a police station in Asmara. ICC broke the news of the arrest in a press release issued on December 7. (See: http://www.persecution.org/suffering/pressdetail.php?presscode=352)
Most of the released Christians are members of Faith Mission Church, an Evangelical Church with a Methodist background. The church has been carrying out evangelistic and development activities in Eritrea for over five decades and was forced to go underground in 2002 after Eritrean officials required all religious groups to register. The officials then allowed only three Christian denominations to register. The three registered churches are: the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea.
Since 2002, officials of Eritrea have been cracking down on members of both registered and unregistered churches. They have imprisoned more than 3000 Christians keeping them in underground dungeons, mental shipping containers, and military barracks. Several Christians have died inside prisons due to torture and lack of medical attention.
One of the released women told ICC source that "we appreciate all the people who prayed for us. Please thank God for our release."
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa and South Asia, Jonathan Racho said "We welcome Eritrea's decision to release all the women. We urge the Eritrean officials to release the more than 3000 Christians who are suffering in underground dungeons, military barracks, and metal shipping containers."