Source: Independent Catholic News

A demonstration will take place in front of Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 2 November, from 2.30-5.30pm to draw attention to the repressive treatment of Christians in Eritrea.

After Catholic bishops in Eritrea protested over the regime’s indefinite military conscription of young people, government forcefully confiscated all the health centres and schools of faith groups, including 29 Catholic Church health centres and seven schools that have been serving people of all faiths in the country for over 60 years.

The Eritrean Catholic Bishops have written a letter strongly opposing the actions of the government and asked the authorities to stop persecuting the church and to return its properties.

The protest rally on Saturday supports the Bishops’ letters and condemns the government’s cruel actions and policies.

.The Catholic Church in Eritrea has now been limited to operating within the confines of its church buildings, denied of its rights to providing free health care and education. The confiscation of the health centres and the schools is having an adverse effect on the most disadvantaged sections of Eritrean society, especially on the vulnerable – children, pregnant women and the elderly who live in remote and difficult to reach areas of the country.

Sisters from the Comboni, Franciscan, Daughters of Charity and Filipino missionaries are among some of the institutions who have been stopped from offering their vocational services and evicted from their places of worship and residences. Eritrea is in a sad state of affairs.

Eritrean Catholics in London write: “A young country full of hope is now at a crossroads. The Eritrean government’s policy of indefinite military conscription and persistent human rights abuses are among some of the main causes of the sufferings and endless mass exodus of the youth, which is becoming an existential threat to the nation. The government does neither allow dissent nor voices that are critical to its policies. It has prohibited free press and imprisoned tens of thousands of political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience and independent journalists without trial.

“A United Nations panel investigating Eritrea has found ‘very clear pattern’ of human rights violations and the absence of rule of law. We, who are lucky enough to become a voice of the voiceless from outside the country, are very disturbed by the actions of the Government of Eritrea and its policies.”

“We want to raise awareness among our Catholic brothers and sisters in the UK as well as the wider British public.

“We plead with our faith leaders in the UK and the Cardinal’s Office in Westminster to convey our concern to the faithful of the church, the UK government and the international community by highlighting the religious persecution and human rights violations in Eritrea, particularly, the confiscation of the religious institutions and properties.

“Faith groups in Eritrea are going through a difficult and testing time. They need the support of the international community to get justice, peace and the return of their institutions to resume their vital services to vulnerable people. The Eritrean people need and deserve a full service from its religious institutions. This protest rally is to witness and express solidarity with the Eritrean people and the Catholic Bishops who have courageously called for Truth, Reconciliation, Forgiveness, Justice and Peace for the people and the country.