Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church Under Arrest
- 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