ERITREA: Another Believer Tortured to Death
Pastor Leule Gebreab of Asmara's Apostolic Church 'disappeared' on 12 August. For weeks nobody has been able to learn anything of his whereabouts and he is believed to have been arrested. His wife is greatly distressed. On 19 August, 10 members of the Full Gospel Church were arrested as they worshipped in a house in Asmara. Some 2000 Eritrean Protestants are presently suffering for their faith under appalling conditions in prison. Recently a group of 10 single Christian women who had been in prison for some 18 months were separated from other prisoners and taken to Weaa (Wi'a) Military Training Centre. Compass Direct reports the women were then ordered to recant their faith and were tortured when they refused. On Wednesday 5 September, Nigsti Haile (33) was tortured to death. She is the fourth Christian to die in custody due to torture.
The systematic persecution of Protestants began in mid-2002. Some Eritrean Catholic and Orthodox churches also have since come under attack for resisting the government's attempts to control them. On 16 August 2007 the government ordered that all schools, clinics, orphanages and women's vocational training centres of Eritrea's Catholic Church be turned over to the government's Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor. Four Bishops have protested in a letter to the government. In August 2005, in what was essentially a government coup against the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Patriarch was deposed, placed under house arrest and replaced with a government puppet.
The 3 March 2007 editorial on Shabait.com, the mouthpiece of the Ministry of Information of the State of Eritrea, condemned the US for criticising Eritrea's religious rights. (America has long been at the forefront of international religious liberty advocacy.) The editorial accused the US of promoting religious liberty only to generate internal division that could be exploited for US political-imperialistic gain. Many third-world, human rights abusing dictators such as Eritrea's President Isaias Afewerki commonly and wilfully embrace the misconception that Protestant Christianity is an appendage of the US government and serves US economic and geo-strategic interests. However, the reality is Eritrea's Protestant Christians love their country and only want to worship the Lord and bless their nation.
Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
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