ERITREA: Imprisoned for 20 Years Without Cause

04 June 2024

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Christian Daily, Release Eritrea

On 23 May 2004, Eritrean authorities arrested two pastors from the Full Gospel Church in Eritrea: Dr Kiflu Gebremeskel and Pastor Haile Nayzgi.

The arrests were made in response to a government ban instituted in 2002 against all but four of the country’s religious communities. Throughout 2004, arrests continued against pastors of the banned organisation, which consisted of between 120 and 150 home church congregations at the time. Pastor Meron Gebreselasie was arrested in June 2004. Then in November of that year, Dr Futsum Gebrenegus, Dr Tekleab Mengisteab and Rev Gebremedhin Gebregiorgis were also detained.

All six church leaders remain in prison without trial 20 years later. They have had no contact with their loved ones nor anyone else outside of the prison throughout the duration of that time. Since there has been no legal process, the imprisoned believers are being held without official cause and with no indication of how long they may be detained.

A colleague who was also influential in starting the Full Gospel Church, Rev Ghirmay Araya, recently passed away while in custody. Estimates concerning the number of believers currently being detained without charge in Eritrea vary from 350 to as many as 1,000.

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