Seventy Christians from evangelical and orthodox backgrounds, including women, have been released from three prisons in Eritrea, some after being held without charge for more than a decade, according to the U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
In what could be an attempt to distract the attention of the international community from Eritrea’s role in the ongoing war in the Tigray region in neighboring Ethiopia, the Eritrean government last Monday released 21 female and 43 male prisoners from Mai Serwa and Adi Abeito prisons near the capital city of Asmara, CSW reported.
Some of the prisoners had been held without charge or trial for up to 12 years.
On Jan. 27, six female prisoners, who had been in detention since last September, in Dekemhare, which is southeast of Asmara, were also released.
The women were arrested for worshiping in public, a video of which was shared by some on social media, CSW said.
“CSW welcomes the release of these Christians in Eritrea, who were detained without charge or trial, and should never have been incarcerated,” CSW President Mervyn Thomas said. “However, this good news must not obscure the Eritrean regime’s continued complicity in egregious violations of human rights, both within its own borders and now in Tigray.”
Unconfirmed reports have suggested that there have been a series of fatal assaults committed against citizens in Tigray, a predominantly-Christian northernmost region of Ethiopia.
Last month, witnesses spoke with The Associated Press, detailing killings, looting and other abuses committed by Eritrean soldiers in Tigray.
“They would kill you for trying, or even crying,” a 48-year-old woman named Zenebu who works as a healthcare worker and lives in Colorado but was trapped in Tigray for weeks while visiting her mother, was quoted as saying.
She added that some Eritrean soldiers went from door-to-door, killing Tigrayan men and boys as young as 7 years old.