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Eritrea: In Trouble for Singing


One Saturday morning, police officers in Eritrea raided a children’s Bible study. The kids, ages 2 to 18, were taken to the police station with their teachers.

At the station the children began to sing a song. The song said, “I am not afraid of persecution, hardships, and even death. Nobody can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ.”

According to some reports, the police told the children to “shut up.” The youngest children were released that day, but the oldest had to stay longer.

Suspicious Leaders
The government of Eritrea approves only four religious groups: Islam (the religion of Muslims), Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christian. Persecution against other groups is growing.

The government usually leaves Orthodox Christians alone. But the children who sang at the police station were from an Orthodox church. Bible studies draw the attention of officials. The officials act suspicious of people who put God first in their lives.

The government gives no reason for persecuting Christians. The leaders may be afraid that young people who are Christians will not join the military and protect Eritrea against enemies.

None of the evangelical churches in Eritrea are against military service. But a reporter said that the government may be afraid that Christians who follow God will not follow the government’s instructions.

Helen Berhane
The Bible study children are not the only singers the government wants to “shut up.” Helen Berhane is an Eritrean gospel singer. Her music is popular with young people in Eritrea.

The police wanted Helen to sign a paper denying her faith in Christ. They wanted her to promise not to sing Christian music anymore. She refused.

The police took Helen to an army camp and kept her there for more than two years. She was treated harshly and was even forced to stay inside a hot metal shipping container much of the time. After Helen was released, she had to use a wheelchair because her legs and feet were injured in prison.

Christians are still arrested and put in prison in Eritrea.

(Sources include: Compass Direct, Amnesty International, Solidarity Worldwide, BBC News, and VOM sources)



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