Eritrea arrests Pentecostals for flouting ban

Eritrea keeps a fierce grip on all sections of society

More than 30 Pentecostal Christians have been detained by the security authorities in Eritrea, a religious rights group based in London has told BBC Tigrinya.

According to Berhane Asmelash of Release Eritrea, they were rounded up while they were praying in three different locations in the capital, Asmara.

The government banned all Pentecostal churches in 2002 and it is estimated that hundreds have been detained for their faith.

The authorities only recognise four religions – Orthodox Christianity, Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Evangelical-Lutheran church of Eritrea.

Other religious groups are considered illegal as the government says they are instruments of foreign governments.

Human right groups accuse the government of widespread and systematic violations of rights, including persecution and detention of leaders and members of the banned churches. 

Eritrea is a repressive one-party state and a highly militarised society, where President Isaias Afwerki keeps a fierce grip on power.

The BBC has tried to reach the government for comment on the latest arrests with no success.

Source: BBC News