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Eritrea frees 36 Christians jailed for their faith

The Eritrean authorities have released on bail 36 prisoners who had been in detention because of their faith.

Sources told the BBC that 14 of the released prisoners have been in detention for the past four years on Dahilik island. Twenty-two others, arrested at the end of last month, have also been freed on bail.

The prisoners are all from Christian Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations.

In 2002 Eritrea introduced a new law that forbids all churches except for the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran denominations.

Sunni Islam is also officially recognised.

But recently the Eritrean government has been releasing people imprisoned because of their religious affiliation.

In September 2020, the Eritrean government released more than 20 prisoners who had been detained for years. In December, the authorities also released 28 members of the Jehovah’s Witness group after they had served long prison terms.

Many Christians still remain in detention and others are routinely arrested because of their faith, according to religious freedom campaigners.

The Eritrean government accuses Pentecostal and Evangelical Christians of being instruments of foreign governments.

Eritrea, a secretive, highly militarised nation, has been ruled by Isaias Afwerki since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, with no elections or parliament and a draft constitution that has never been implemented.

SourceBBC NEWS
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