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UKRAINE: Evangelical pastor arrested by Russians in Mariupol and jailed near Donetsk

Evangelical pastor arrested by Russians in Mariupol

Release International (21.03.2022)- https://bit.ly/3JKf2Vv – Please pray for the pastor of an Evangelical church in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, who has been arrested by Russian forces.

 Alexander Glushko, the pastor of the Mariupol Evangelical Church ‘Light of the World’ was arrested at his home a few days ago. A search was made of his house and a diploma from the Theological Seminary of Ukraine was found. A Release International partner says this is one of the reasons for his arrest.

 ‘According to our information, he has already been taken to the territory previously occupied by Russian troops and placed in a prison in the city of Dokuchaevsk, not far from Donetsk,’ reported our partner.

His family has no further information as to his whereabouts and his wife has no right or opportunity to see her husband.

Another pastor of a church near Mariupol has told our partner that he was blacklisted for arrest but he managed to escape. However, the church building, where the pastor’s family also lived, has been confiscated.

Our partner continued: ‘I believe that many other pastors of evangelical churches in Ukraine, known for their patriotic position, are also included in such a “black list”. This is also fully in line with reports that were published before the invasion of the Russian army that the “physical liquidation of some religious figures in Ukraine” who openly support their government is expected.

Shortly after the conflict in Ukraine began, “Release International” reported on the way Protestant churches in the pro-Russian controlled regions of Ukraine have been subject to restrictions on their freedom in recent years.

Our partner added that many Christians have already fled Mariupol – not only because of the current fighting but because of fears of possible persecution for the Evangelical faith.

Further reading about FORB in Ukraine on HRWF website





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ERITREA: 15 Christians re-arrested in raids in the capital

15 Christians re-arrested

Release International (20.09.2021) – https://bit.ly/39pyHte – The Eritrean authorities recently arrested 15 Christians in raids on their houses in the capital Asmara. All have previously been imprisoned for their faith – some for up to 16 years.

 

This latest wave of arrests of men and women from different churches aged from their late 20s to their 60s, puts paid to any prospect of a softening of policy towards Christian prisoners in Eritrea after a number were recently released. Some have already served up to 16 years behind bars while others have been imprisoned for between five and six years. They were released last summer, but rearrested following the discovery of a list of Christian contacts.

 

The believers were all taken to Mai Serwa maximum-security prison in the capital.

 

In July, the authorities re-arrested two elderly pastors, Girmay Araia and Samuel Gebrewleldi. Both are in their 70s and leaders in the Full Gospel Church of Eritrea. No reason has been given for their arrest.

 

It is estimated that there are now about 160 Christian prisoners in Eritrea.

 

Photo: Release International

Further reading about FORB in Eritrea on HRWF website





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ERITREA: More Christians arrested as others set free

69 freed, but five more arrested – dashing hopes of a change of heart.

 

Release International (06.10.2020) – https://bit.ly/38cuYzD – Release International can confirm that a total of 69 Christian prisoners of faith have now been released in Eritrea – while five more have been arrested.

 

Release partners are not naming the Christians for their own safety. They say they have been released on bail, which could be forfeited if they attempted to leave the country.

 

Many are long-term prisoners. One has been behind bars for 16 years. None has ever been sent to trial.

 

Women arrested

 

When news of their release broke in Eritrea, many Christians took to the streets to celebrate – prompting another round of arrests.  The authorities seized five women who stepped outside to pray and rejoice at the news.

 

‘These were mothers,’ says Release International’s Eritrean partner, Dr Berhane Asmelash. ‘One is a mother of five, another the mother of four. They were cheering from the roadside – and arrested on the spot.’

 

Given these latest arrests, Dr Berhane fears it could be premature to hope for a change of heart or softening of policy towards Christians in Eritrea. He now considers it unlikely that more prisoner releases could follow.

 

‘Keep praying’

 

‘We have been here before,’ he adds, ‘many times. We don’t see any change in government policy. God is the only hope for our country. Keep praying.’

 

And the Release partner is sceptical that the current releases are linked, as reported, with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Eritrea’s overcrowded prisons.

 

‘The release of so few prisoners wouldn’t change a thing,’ he says. ‘But the virus is only one of their problems. The prisoners face hardship, illness and malnutrition. Most of the prisons don’t have toilet facilities.’

 

Dr Berhane estimates some 300 Christian prisoners of faith remain in the country – held indefinitely without charge or ever having been sent for trial.

 

‘Release all the prisoners’

 

He says: ‘Our message to the government of Eritrea is this, these people haven’t committed any crime. Most of them are hard-working people of peace, who could be used to rebuild their country. Please – release the rest of the prisoners.’

 

The US State Department puts the figure for all prisoners of conscience in Eritrea as high as 3,000.

 

According to media reports, half a million Eritreans have fled their country – almost one in six of the population.

 

‘Eritrea has been likened to the North Korea of Africa,’ says Release International CEO Paul Robinson. ‘It began its crackdown on churches in 2002. Since then, Release has been pressing the government to release its prisoners of faith – every one of them. We will continue to do so.’

 

Through its international network of missions, Release International is active in some 25 countries around the world, supporting pastors, Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice.

Photo: Dr Berhane Asmelash (left) with former UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Photo by Release International.


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