Ninety Christians have been arrested in Eritrea in the last two months, as authorities continue a campaign against Christians that began in December. Six of the 90 arrested have been released, but the location of the other 84 is unknown.
On June 2, 2011, police arrested 26 college students from Mai-Mefhi College of Technology. Students were not given a reason for their arrest, but Release Eritrea reports that the students may have been arrested because they did not participate in Independence Day Celebrations. In May, 64 Christians in a village near the Eritrean capital of Asmara were arrested and detained at Asmara’s 6th Police Station.
Sources believe the arrested Christians either remain at the police station or have been moved to Mitire Prison in northeastern Eritrea. Mitire is a remote military prison that is notorious for torture and its harsh living and working conditions. Former Mitire prisoners told Christian Solidarity Worldwide that Mitire is an open-air facility in the desert, where prisoners are terrified by poisonous snakes. Prisoners receive very little food and are forced to work constructing buildings for officers. Because there are no medical facilities, most prisoners leave Mitire after they become too sick to work.
In May 2002, the government of Eritrea banned all Christian groups that do not belong to officially recognized churches. As a result, the Eritrean government has imprisoned several thousand Christians, making the country one of the harshest persecutors of Christians in the world. Many Christians imprisoned in 2002 remain in detention and have never gone before a court. At least 16 Eritrean Christians have died in custody since May 2002, mostly due to torture, treatable illnesses and malnutrition.
Sources: Release International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release Eritrea, VOM Sources