Two more Christians die while in Eritrea’s prisons
Two more Christians died recently after harsh torture in Eritrea’s infamous prisons, after which they were denied crucial medical treatment that would have otherwise saved their lives.
Seble Hagos Mebrahtu, 27, died after “two weeks of torture and harsh treatment” and then was denied treatment for malaria, according to BosNewsLife.
Last year, on Jan. 16, 2010, Mehari Gebreneguse Asgedom, 42, died from complications of diabetes and injuries that he incurred from torture while in prison. He was denied medical treatment for his diabetes and wounds, according to Mission Network News.
Jailed for reading a bible
Mebrahtu was jailed when she was caught reading a bible in her bedroom. It isn’t known how long she was in prison. She died in a military training center in Sawa, Eritrea on Jan. 1, BosNewsLife reported.
Mebrahtu is the 16th known Christian death in one of that country’s notorious jail facilities since 2002, when the government banned all churches and religious groups outside of the state-approved Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran and Islamic faiths, BosNewsLife said.
Asgedom was confined at the Mitire Military Confinement Center when he died. He had been kept in a “small isolation cell the size of a shipping container,” according to BosNewsLife.
Church leaders in Eritrea said last Nov. 2010 that there are some 1,500 Christians in prison who were jailed specifically for their religious beliefs. However, unofficial reports peg the number at 3,000. According to Mission Network News information in Eritrea is extremely hard to confirm.
In recent weeks scores of Christians were picked up and detained, among them 41 from the evangelical Philadelphia Church in Asmara, the capital city, on Dec. 31, BosNewsLife said.
BosNewsLife added that the Christians were beaten, adding, “Apart from a handful of members who happened to be out of town at the time of the arrest, the whole Philadelphia congregation in Asmara was taken in.”
On New Year’s Day, another 27 Evangelical Christians from several underground churches near the capital were arrested and are believed to be detained at the infamous Police Station No. 5, BosNewsLife reported.
On Jan. 9, another 35 Evangelicals were arrested in Nafka town. BosNewsLife said, “Those arrested included 15 women and two elderly men in poor health. They were taken from the home of one of the believers as they were having a worship meeting.”
President Isaias Afewerki said several faith churches were “duped by foreigners” to “distract from the unity of the Eritrean people and distort the true meaning of religion,” BosNewsLife reported.
According to Mission Network News, Eritrea ranks No. 12 in Open Doors’ 2011 World Watch List for religious freedom human rights violations.