Americans are familiar with many human rights problems around the world. The death camps of North Korea, the civil war in Sudan, and the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia have all become high profile situations. But many smaller nations escape our attention. One such country is Eritrea. Reports of the persecution of Christians in this small African nation have trickled through to the west for several months now, but have garnered little attention.

 

Christianity Today reports on the Eritrea in Dumped into Drums about the recent "brutal crackdown on Christians."  This persecution, reported by many different sources, became bad enough to put this country on the State Department's "country of particular concern" list.

The Eritrean government—while claiming that it allows freedom of religion—has stepped up its arrests of Christians this year after outlawing independent churches in 2002. Security forces have jailed at least 240 Christians this year.

Many of those arrested are held in metal shipping containers. Sweltering in the daytime and cold at night, the containers have no sanitation. Infectious diseases and diarrhea are common….

Last September the U.S. State Department for the first time named Eritrea a "country of particular concern" (CPC) for severe violations of religious freedom. "There were numerous reports of physical torture and attempts at forced recantations," the State Department reported. "[Church] closures, the government's refusal to authorize any registrations, and the restriction on holding religious meetings continued."

 

Last week the New York Times reviewed I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation, a book that seeks to put this small forgotten country back on the map. The review, The Never-Ending Struggle Of a Forgotten Bit of Africa, provides a quite overview of Eritrea's history calling the book an "eloquent and impassioned… plea before an indifferent world that… has never heard of the place." But we must remember those Eritrean people persecuted for their faith.