According to Compass Direct News, the students were imprisoned in the container after they objected to authorities confiscating and burning 1,500 Bibles taken from new students who arrived at the training center for the new 2008-2009 school year.
“During the time that the Bibles were set on fire, the Chief Commander of Sawa, Col. Debesai Ghide, gave a warning to all the students by telling them that Sawa is a place of patriotism, not a place of Pentes [Pentecostals]. Eight male students to whom God gave boldness to speak against the burning of the Bibles have been taken into custody in one of the metal containers that the military uses as prison cells for Christians who have been found practicing in the center,” Compass reported.
The Eritrean government cracks down on Christians, often placing believers in metal containers which are extremely hot during the day and cold during night. Nearly 1,800 Eritrean Christians are believed to be under arrest because of their religious beliefs, held in police stations, military camps and prisons in 12 known locations across Eritrea. It is believed more than 28 clergymen are being held.
Jailed Christians are routinely subjected to physical beatings and severe psychological pressure to deny their religious beliefs. Police and military authorities continue to demand the prisoners return to one of the three “official” Christian denominations recognized by the government. But even the legally recognized denominations-the nation’s historic Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches-have come under government disfavor in recent years past year, incurring threats and even jailing by security police officials.
The Voice of the Martyrs has provided assistance and encouragement to persecuted believers in Eritrea. VOM has supported the families of martyred believers through VOM’s Family of Martyrs Fund. VOM encourages you to pray these students will be released. Ask God to encourage other Christians suffering for Christ’s sake in Eritrean prisons.