Eritrea: Another Believer Tortured to Death

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Pastor Leule Gebreab of Asmara's Apostolic Church 'disappeared' on
12 August. For weeks nobody has been able to learn anything of his
whereabouts and he is believed to have been arrested. His wife is
greatly distressed. On 19 August, 10 members of the Full Gospel
Church were arrested as they worshipped in a house in Asmara. Some
2000 Eritrean Protestants are presently suffering for their faith
under appalling conditions in prison. Recently a group of 10 single
Christian women who had been in prison for some 18 months were
separated from other prisoners and taken to Weaa (Wi'a) Military
Training Centre. Compass Direct reports the women were then ordered
to recant their faith and were tortured when they refused. On
Wednesday 5 September, Nigsti Haile (33) was tortured to death. She
is the fourth Christian to die in custody due to torture.

The systematic persecution of Protestants began in mid-2002. Some
Eritrean Catholic and Orthodox churches also have since come under
attack for resisting the government's attempts to control them. On
16 August 2007 the government ordered that all schools, clinics,
orphanages and women's vocational training centres of Eritrea's
Catholic Church be turned over to the government's Ministry of
Social Welfare and Labor. Four Bishops have protested in a letter
to the government. In August 2005, in what was essentially a
government coup against the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Patriarch
was deposed, placed under house arrest and replaced with a
government puppet.

The 3 March 2007 editorial on Shabait.com, the mouthpiece of the
Ministry of Information of the State of Eritrea, condemned the US
for criticising Eritrea's religious rights. (America has long been
at the forefront of international religious liberty advocacy.) The
editorial accused the US of promoting religious liberty only to
generate internal division that could be exploited for US political-
imperialistic gain. Many third-world, human rights abusing
dictators such as Eritrea's President Isaias Afewerki commonly and
wilfully embrace the misconception that Protestant Christianity is
an appendage of the US government and serves US economic and geo-
strategic interests. However, the reality is Eritrea's Protestant
Christians love their country and only want to worship the Lord and
bless their nation.


* even amidst their suffering, Eritrea's Christian prisoners may
experience the presence and love of Christ and be strengthened
and enabled by the Spirit of God to both endure suffering and
radiate grace; may God bless and comfort the Church.

* Christian solidarity, empathy and brotherly love will take root
in the Eritrean Church across denominational lines so that
spiritual unity may be a fruit of this persecution.

* God will awaken more European leaders to the great need for
religious liberty advocacy in countries like Eritrea where
anti-Americanism and suspicion thwarts US advocacy efforts; may
God bring change to Eritrea. '. . . it is from the Lord that
man gets justice.' (Proverbs 29:26 NIV)

* EGYPT UPDATE: On 1 September, Egypt's Supreme Administrative
Court delayed its ruling in the re-trial of the Coptic converts to
Islam who want to return to Christianity and are seeking to have
their Christian identity legally restored. The ruling has been
postponed to 17 November. Please pray for the judges considering
this case.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.