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Wednesday, August 24, 2005 


Eastern Orthodox who FAIL to speak out on Persecution of Other CHRISTIANS now find themselves in the SAME Oppressed Situation. 


By Jeremy Reynalds
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service 

ERITREA (ANS) - AUG 24/05 - The head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church has been relieved of all administrative duties and removed from effective control of the Patriarchate.

Eritrea is located in Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan (www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/er.html). 

Following a Holy Synod held Aug. 6-7, Patriarch Abune Antonios has been “frozen” from his post after attempts to unseat him ended in failure, according to an official letter dated Aug. 9 2005 and leaked to the Eritrean website Asmarino.com (http://news9.asmarino.com/content/view/494/86). 

Human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (www.csw.org.uk) reported in a news release that according to Asmarino.com, the “freezing” of individuals who fall out of favor with the government is prevalent in Eritrea and is primarily undertaken as an act of humiliation. 

Article 32 of the constitution of the Orthodox Church, CSW reported, states that its administrative body, the Holy Synod, is meant to function under the chairmanship of the Patriarch who is the chief administrator of the church. 

However, it appears, CSW wrote, that Patriarch Antonios will now be confined to a ceremonial role only and no longer be allowed any input into the day-to-day running of the Patriarchate. Contrary to the church’s constitution, administrative authority may now be in the hands of Yoftahe Dimetros, a government-appointed lay person. 

In May 2002, CSW wrote, the government of Eritrea ordered the closure of all Christian denominations except Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Lutheranism, and ended all other religious practices apart from Islam. However, members of government-sanctioned churches have also experienced repression, and the “freezing” of the Patriarch is the latest indication of increasing government intervention in the internal affairs of Eritrea's largest church.

Since his ordination in April 2004, CSW reported that Patriarch Antonios is said to have become increasingly critical of the government's continual interventions into church matters. 

For the first time ever, CSW reported, the traditional Jan. 2005 Orthodox Annual Christmas message was not aired on national media after the Patriarch allegedly objected to the n Nov. 2004 detention of three Orthodox priests from the Medhane Alem Church, and accused the government of interfering in church affairs. 

The Patriarch also opposed requests to close down the church, which is linked to the Orthodox renewal movement and attracts thousands of young people.

More recently, CSW wrote that Asmarino.com reported that prior to his removal from administrative duties, the Patriarch had increasingly begun to challenge the regime on spiritual grounds, and had objected to government intrusion through Dimetros in the administration of the Patriarchate. 

Dimetros has become “increasingly infamous,” CSW reported. He “repeatedly clashed” with the Patriarch as he attempted to force the Orthodox Church to adopt government inspired policies. Dimetros is also reported to have accompanied an Eritrean Bishop to the seat of the Egyptian Orthodox Church in July in an attempt to persuade the Papacy to replace Patriarch Antonios with this bishop.

Indicating Dimetros’ “current notoriety,” CSW reported that a July 30 2005 letter from the Eritrean Orthodox Church in America, called for his “immediate removal from the illegal position he holds,” and his replacement by a bishop who fulfils the criteria outlined in the church's constitution and “has the interest of the Church and her sacred mission at heart.”

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive officer of CSW, said in a news release, “We are dismayed by this unwarranted intervention in the affairs of the Orthodox Church. The discourteous treatment of the Primate of a church that is supposed to have government sanction suggests that in reality the Eritrean regime is attempting to curtail every expression of Christianity in that country.” 





Thursday, August 4, 2005


Wedding Celebrants Now Moved To A Detention Center In One Of The Hottest Places On Earth

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

ASMARA, ERITREA (ANS) - Aug 4/05 - Seventy Eritrean Christians arrested at a wedding celebration in Asmara on May 28 may have been sent to a detention center in one of the most inhospitable parts of Eritrea.

According to reports received by religious liberty NGO Release Eritrea, forwarded to ASSIST News Service (ANS) by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the 70 Christians had been promised freedom on condition that they express allegiance to the Eastern Orthodox, Catholic or Lutheran churches, the only Christian denominations that are sanctioned by the Eritrean government. Amongst the group is popular gospel artist Essey Estifanos and several of his friends.

The group is now said to be held in a detention center in Wi’a, one of the hottest places on earth. It was used during the Italian colonial era as a place of extreme punishment; however the current Eritrean government routinely punishes young people it deems to be rebellious by sending them there.

During the summer of 2001, 2,000 university students were detained in Wi’a for a two-month period, and two of them are reported to have died of heatstroke. More recently, in early June well over a dozen detainees are alleged to have been killed in Wi’a after guards opened fire on them during an attempted escape. The details of this incident are currently being investigated by Amnesty International.

Dr Berhane Asmelash, Director of Release-Eritrea, said: "I am dismayed that in this day and age a government of an independent nation sees it fit to punish its citizens under such conditions for any transgression. The fact that the only crime of these young people is confessing their faith in Jesus Christ makes their predicament totally inexplicable. I am concerned for their safety and wellbeing of course; however I am also concerned about the trend of escalation of severe persecution."

CSW says reports are also emerging of the first known allegation of a death of a Christian prisoner as a result of mistreatment in detention.

Kelati Awalom, a committed Christian and a member of the Rhema Church, had been detained on three separate occasions. On March 17, 2004 he was arrested along with his wife and five children. Although his wife and three of his children were released on the following day, on this occasion Mr. Awalom and two of his daughters are said to have remained in detention for three months.

According to information received by the Eritrean Christian website Erishalom, while in detention prison guards beat Mr. Awalom so severely about the head and neck that one of his arms was paralyzed. He is reported to have suffered from the effects of the beating long after his final release, and to have died at his home on July 24.

Erishalom has called for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for Christian prisoners in Eritrea on August 5.

CSW Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert said: "We are gravely concerned at the escalation of repression in Eritrea. The voice of the international community needs to be heard loud and clear by the Eritrean government if we are ever to see any improvement."

CSW reports that on 22 May, 2002 the Eritrean government ordered the closure of all churches not belonging to the Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Lutheran denominations, and an end to all other religious practices except Islam.

The move came in the wake of increasing harassment of evangelical and Pentecostal denominations in particular, which the government equated with Islamists and vilified as non-indigenous, unpatriotic agents of foreign interests, who were seeking to undermine public morality and destabilize the country.

Repression has increased greatly since May 2002. According to one report, in April 2005 almost 900 Christians were indefinitely detained in Eritrea. This number includes three Orthodox Priests from the church's renewal movement, who have been held in incommunicado detention since November 2004, and a member of the Lutheran church, who also serves on the Executive Committee of The Gideon's International in Eritrea and was arrested in March 2005. Although the government recently released several of these detainees in an attempt to offset negative publicity, it is estimated that over 400 Christians remain in detention.

The 70 Christians most recently arrested were part of a group of at least 250 people who were detained while attending a wedding function at Kiwa Hall in Asmara. The authorities also arrested the bride and groom, detaining them overnight at a newly constructed detention center near Asmara International Airport.

Please pray for the Christians in this area, and especially those who are detained, and that officials would free them. 




Saturday, July 23, 2005 

Pope Benedict XVI Petitioned To Use His Position To Secure Detainees' Release

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service 

ERITREA (ANS) -July 23, 2005 - Eritrean Christians are calling for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for Christian prisoners in Eritrea on August 5. And two Eritrean brothers have petitioned Pope Benedict XI calling on the Pontiff to use his good offices to secure the "release of illegally detained Eritreans."

A 'Day of Christian Prisoners' has been organized by www.Erishalom.com, a website run by a coalition of Eritrean Christians, some of whom work underground in Eritrea, while others are living abroad.

On the website, Eritrean Christians state: "With the help of the Living Almighty God whom we serve, three years has passed since Erishalom Eritrean #1 Gospel Website began serving Eritrean Church worldwide. 

"On this special day, we are calling all to pray and fast for Christians and Ministers of the gospel who are behind bars of Eritrean Prisons. 

"Through the information we are getting everyday, and the kind of torment our brethren are passing through for long period with out justice. we have learnt that the condition of Christians who are detained is getting worse and worse. 

"Therefore, we are calling all to join on 5th of August 2005 in prayer and fasting with Churches found worldwide, and with different Humanitarian organizations, in one spirit."

In a letter to the international Christian community, the organizers expressed their urgent need for help from the worldwide church.

They said: "Throughout the Bible, whenever Christians are in any kind of difficult situation, the whole Church would pray as one without ceasing." They have requested similar action on behalf of Eritrea’s detained Christians.

A Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) fact-finding team that visited Eritrean refugees in a neighboring African country heard graphic testimonies of the severe punishments meted out to any Christians in the armed forces who are caught praying or are found in possession of Bibles or other Christian material. 

CSW reports seeing several women who spoke of experiencing problems with their wombs following extended beatings and other maltreatment. Some refugees told of being placed for several months in special punishment units, including one known as a 'shella,' which is a two meter by two meter cell that has no light. 

At least one person is reported to have been left in a cramped punishment room for so long that his legs no longer function. Several people informed CSW that they had been told their punishment would end if they recanted their faith. 

According to reports received by Eritrean writer Habtoum Yohannes, prison authorities are now offering to release Christians on condition that they sign a document entitled 'I Won't Shine,' in which they promise not to engage in any church-related activities.

CSW says that in 2002 the government ordered the closure of all churches that were not affiliated to the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox denominations, and ended all other religious practices except Islam.

Some 500 Christians are currently imprisoned in Eritrea. The most recent arrests occurred on July 8, when 18 Christian college students from Halhale College in the capital Asmara were detained as they left examination halls after their final exams. 

In a separate incident, Christian university Professor Semere Zayid, was re-arrested on July 6. In February Professor Zayid had been detained for four weeks and released, but was obliged to report to the police at regular intervals. 

CSW says: "Many Eritrean Christians have been mistreated in detention as the authorities have sought to force them to renounce their faith. Persecution is particularly acute within the armed forces where Christian gatherings and reading the Bible have been forbidden since the mid-1990s."

Recent reports from Eritrea also indicate that the authorities may be arresting the families of young people who have managed to flee the country. According to a report posted on an Eritrean website, eyewitnesses have told of the arrests of 700 to 800 parents and relatives, and of people being 
'dragged into army trucks' by officials who insist that they are responsible for the actions of their children.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said: "The treatment of Christians and many others in Eritrea today is morally outrageous. The wider church must heed the call for help from our Eritrean family to stand with them in prayer."

In the meantime, the long march from Geneva to Rome of two Eritrean brothers seeking to highlight the plight of Eritrean prisoners is nearing its conclusion. Tekle and Samuel Gebregiorgis were set to arrive in Vatican City, where they presented a petition to Pope Benedict XI calling on the Pontiff to use his good offices to secure the 'release of illegally detained Eritreans.' 

The petition also calls on the Pope to urge key members and bodies of the international community 'to set up an independent commission to inspect the conditions in all the official and unofficial detention centers in the country.' 

The full text of the petition says: "In Eritrea today thousands of people find themselves in prisons and detention centers throughout the country without due process of law. They are neither formally charged nor given the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law. 

"All basic and fundamental freedoms; freedom of thought, expression, association and worship are severely curbed. People are arbitrarily snatched from the streets, their work place, their homes and their place of worship for unknown reasons and detained incommunicado for an unspecified length of time. 

"There are countless prisons around the country many have never been designed for the purpose and therefore are not equipped with necessary facilities. Prison camps and holding places can be: 

"-- Dangerously and fatally overcrowded; as did happen in Adi-abeyto, where compounds that have no sanitation and no form of protection from the harsh climatic conditions are used to hold thousands indiscriminately.

"-- Unfit for human habitation; this includes shipment containers that get oven hot during the day in the sub-Saharan temperatures and freezing cold at night. Prisoners are only ever allowed out for a maximum of 20 min a day to relieve themselves. Nearly all prisons in the country lack appropriate sanitation facilities putting prisoners at risk of deadly infectious diseases. 

"-- Appropriate medical care is not available; prescription dependent prisoners have been deprived of medication. Those prisoners with long-term medical conditions are particularly at risk as appropriate follow up and care is not forthcoming. Even the elderly and vulnerable are held under these harsh conditions. 

"-- Some of the camps are hard labor prison camps, where inmates are required to be engaged in highly demanding physical work without appropriate monitoring, equipments or even enough food. Malnutrition is a persistent hazard. A distinction is not made between those who are physically able and those that are not, those who are physically and medically unfit are not shown any discretions. 

"-- Those who die in detention are buried unceremoniously and their loved ones are seldom informed. 

"-- International and national human rights organizations are not allowed any form of independent monitoring."

The petition continues: "Article 19 of the Eritrean Constitution allows for freedom of conscience, religion, movement, assembly, organization and expression of opinion. Moreover, in Article 17, the Constitution stipulates the right to a fair and public trial, the presumption of innocence and the right of appeal. It also states that anyone arrested should be brought before a court of law within 48 hours of their arrest, while the Eritrean Penal Code states that once arrested, a person should be charged within 28 days or released."

It adds: "Eritrea has also acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, all of which contain provisions for basic human rights that are being trampled by the appalling situation stated above. 

The petition concludes: "We, undersigned, therefore ask your Holiness to use your good offices to bear pressure on the Eritrean Authorities to release all illegally detained Eritreans and to also urge the international community, the UN Security Council, the European Union and the government of the United States of America to set up and send an independent Commission to inspect the conditions in all the official and unofficial detention centres in the country." 
For more details, please visit: http://www.dhnet-eritrawian.co/ . The petition can be found at: www.PetitionOnline.com/FreeErit/ 





Wednesday, June 8, 2005 


By Elizabeth Kendal
World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC)
Special to ASSIST News Service 

AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- In September 2001 the Eritrean government closed down all private media, then rounded up its opponents and critics and silenced them by incarcerating them in 'secret' prisons. Amnesty International estimates several thousand political prisoners are languishing incommunicado in detention. The crackdown on churches began in May 2002 when the government closed and banned all but three state- sanctioned denominations: Eritrean Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran.

Today some 900 Christians including 16 pastors are in prison for their faith. The conditions are dire and torture is routine. This religious repression is partly driven by the politically powerful Eritrean Eastern Orthodox Church  trying to protect its influence  in the face of significant evangelical renewal (and people making a more democratic choice). The Eritrean government denies there is any religious repression, boasting full religious freedom with tight national security. 

These four years of repression, violence and injustice have also been four years of drought. Today, around 60 percent of Eritreans rely on food aid. UNICEF reports that more than 40 percent of pregnant or lactating women are malnourished and between 10 and 20 percent of all children under age five are acutely malnourished. New laws came into effect on 1 June 2005 to regulate Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and tax their imports, making it impossible for smaller NGOs to operate. NGOs engaging in 'political or economic sabotage' will be banned. Eritrea's suffering and isolation will thus be further compounded.

Compass Direct (CD) reports that on Saturday 28 May, police raided a large wedding ceremony in the Eritrean capital of Asmara, arresting at least 250 guests, along with the bride and groom (both of the Meserete Kristos Church) and their wedding party. Members of the government-sanctioned denominations were later released, while about 70 others belonging to banned evangelical churches were kept in custody. CD reports that amongst those arrested were Pastor Gideon of the Meserete Kristos Church, Immanuel an evangelist from the Kale Hiwot Church, and Esaye Stefanos, a nationally known gospel singer from the Full Gospel Church. The prisoners are reportedly being pressured to abandon their evangelical beliefs and join state-sanctioned churches. 

On Wednesday 25 May, Eritreans from across America along with their supporters gathered outside Eritrea's Embassy in Washington DC to protest Eritrea's human rights violations. They called for the release of all political and religious prisoners, and for political, journalistic and religious freedom to be restored. Eritrean believers at the rally prayed and worshiped the Lord openly in front of posters of imprisoned Eritrean pastors. The Director of Jubilee Campaign, Anne Buwalda, comments, 'Almost everyone [at the rally] knew one or more jailed pastor. ... they came from as far away as Minnesota and Atlanta to attend because of their love for their pastors.' 

Sources believe the wedding arrests were a response to the Washington protest and the Eritrean government is trying to intimidate local believers into silence. Retaliatory arrests are intended to send the message that overseas advocacy and pressure will only make things worse. There will be a rally outside the Eritrean Embassy in London on Thursday 9 June, to call once again for religious freedom in Eritrea. 



God to comfort, encourage and sustain imprisoned believers, supplying all their needs, healing their trauma of body, mind and soul, and filling them with an overwhelming assurance of his presence and love. 

God to raise up powerful advocates and effective measures to restore justice and religious liberty to Eritrea, so those unjustly imprisoned can be released and God's word can go out boldly, powerfully and freely. 

the President of Eritrea, Isayas Afewerki - 'The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.' (Proverbs 21:1) 

the irresistible Holy Spirit to revive the state-sanctioned Eritrean Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches, from the grassroots to the leadership, that repenting they will know unity as one body, solidarity with the persecuted, and renewed passion for the living Christ.
'Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.' (Habakkuk 3:2)






Pages & Content appear exactly as they did in  This Original New Testament






Yet in most nations where the majority of the population are Muslims, there is systematic government persecution of Christians.


"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

--Article 18 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights--




Christian Conversions - According to the Bible - Can NEVER be forced.

Any Conversion to Christianity which would be "Forced" would NOT be recognized by God. It is in His True and KIND nature, that those who come to Him and choose to believe in Him, must come to Him OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL.

Don't Let anyone tell you that Christians support Forced Conversions.

That is False. True Christianity is NEVER forced.


Core Universal Rights

The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one's belief or religion
The right to join together and express one's belief