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Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church Under Arrest

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  • Fr John Brian
    Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church Under Arrest Submitted by editor on Fri, 2006-01-20 23:30. press release http://www.release-eritrea.org.uk/node/42
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 24, 2006
      Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church Under Arrest
      Submitted by editor on Fri, 2006-01-20 23:30. press release

      (London 20-1-06) Release Eritrea is concerned about news coming out of
      Eritrea, confirming that Abune Antonios, the Patriarch of the Eritrean
      Orthodox Church has been removed from his duty at the Patriarchate. Further
      the news also stated that the Patriarch has been placed under house arrest.

      It is deeply concerning that political appointees to the Orthodox Church,
      headed by Mr Yoftahe Dimetros, have completely disregarded the spiritual
      authority of the church in order to bring the biggest Church in the country
      under government control.

      It is to be remembered that Abune Antonios lobbied president Issias over the
      arrest of three orthodox priests from the Medhanialem Orthodx Church, last
      year. This and his continued objection to the interference of the regime in
      the church is said to be behind his targeting for severe persecution.

      Eritrean sources also indicate that the administrative body appointed by the
      regime has been holding secret meetings to orchestrate the dismissal of
      Abune Antonios and the appointment of new Patriarch to replace him. This is
      a complete disregard to the Canons of the Oriental Orthodox Church.

      Release Eritrea recognises these incidents as nothing but a continuation of
      the severe religious persecution that has become all too common in Eritrea.
      In a Statement Dr Berhane Asmelash Director of Release-Eritrea stated: ‘I am
      appalled by the utter disregard the Government of Eritrea is showing to the
      people of Eritrea and their religion and tradition, I renew my call for
      prayers for Eritrea and Eritrean Christians.’

      About Release Eritrea
      Release Eritrea is a global partnership of Eritreans and friends of Eritrea
      opposed to religious persecution in the country.

      On May 22 2002, the PFDJ (the ruling party of Eritrea) ordered the closure
      of all churches not belonging to the Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Evangelical
      Lutheran denominations. So far, at least 36 churches have been closed. Many
      followers of these churches and their religious leaders have been
      imprisoned, harassed and tortured.

      On several occasions since then the Eritrean government issued blanket
      denials of the existence of persecution in the country stating that ‘no
      groups or persons are persecuted in Eritrea for their beliefs or religion’
      and that people were ‘free to worship according to their wish’.
      In September Eritrea became the first country to have sanctions applied
      under the US religious freedom law, when the US State Department notified
      congress that the state secretary had banned commercial export of defense
      articles to Eritrea. It is also the case that many human rights
      organizations including Amnesty International have outlined their concerns
      over the deteriorating conditions of human rights including religious
      freedom in Eritrea.

      You can contact Release Eritrea by emailing staff@...
      More information on: www.release-eritrea.org.uk
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