Eritrea: influential Coptic Orthodox Church condemned iron rule

Asmara (HAN) June 10, 2014 – The Eritrean youth are running a forced labor program that is spawning human rights violations and fueling a refugee exodus, according to a report that will be debated next month at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Eritrean youth are the most attempting the risky crossing from North Africa to Europe by boat, a trip that has killed hundreds so far this year

Sheila Keetharuth, an independent investigator who is the U.N. “special rapporteur” on human rights in Eritrea, wrote that torture, sexual violence and extra-judicial killings “continue unabated” in Eritrea.

Four Eritrean bishops have issued a rare criticism damning the situation in the authoritarian Red Sea state, according to a copy of their letter released online. The four  Eritrean bishops are Christian Orthodox church are Mengsteab Tesfamariam, bishop of the capital Asmara, as well as Tomas Osman of Barentu, Kidane Yeabio of Keren and Feqremariam Hagos of Segeneti.


The Bible and history of Christianity in Eritrea dates back to the Apostolic Era. In ancient times, Yemeni and Syrian Christians settled in the port cities of Adulis (near Massawa) and Avalites (Assab) along the Red Sea in the first century, making converts among the locals. In the centuries that followed, churches were built and the Gospel was preached throughout the highlands, particularly in Akeleguzai, Hamasien, and Serae.


The letter highlighted the plight of tens of thousands of Eritreans who have fled across the heavily guarded border into neighboring nations, running away from open-ended conscription and the iron-grip rule of President Issaias Afeworki.

Such outspoken views are rarely heard from inside Eritrea, ranked worst in the world for press freedom by the rights group Reporters Without Borders.

“There is no reason to search for a country of honey if you are in one,” the letter in Eritrea’s Tigrinya language read, according to a translation from the opposition website

Eritrea’s youth were leaving in search of “peaceful countries, to countries of justice, of work, where one expresses himself loudly, a country where one works and earns,” the letter added, signed by four bishops from the country’s influential Coptic Orthodox Church.

The UN estimates as many as 3,000 Eritreans flood into Sudan and Ethiopia every month, from a country of some five million people and about the size of England.


“On top of the crisis of people leaving their country, the family unit is fragmented because members are scattered in (national) service, army, rehabilitation centres, prisons,” the lengthy letter read.

“Aged parents are left with no one to care for them, and have been spiritually damaged. And all that combined is making the country desolate,” it added.

There was no immediate response from Eritrea’s leader or Ministry of Information.

The four bishops, from Eritrea’s Christian Orthodox church are Mengsteab Tesfamariam, bishop of the capital Asmara, as well as Tomas Osman of Barentu, Kidane Yeabio of Keren and Feqremariam Hagos of Segeneti.

Rights groups say scores of political prisoners are held in brutal desert camps close to Asmara without trial.

“All those who are arrested should first be handled humanely and sympathetically, and then, based on the accusations against them, they should be presented to a court,” the letter added.

The letter was issued last month for Eritrea’s 23rd anniversary of independence from arch-foe Ethiopia, but was only released on the site.  AP.



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  1. The news really deviated the truth by saying “Eritrea: influential Coptic Orthodox Church condemned iron rule”. Any way no one is going to follow your lies. You are robbing Catholic bishop’s credit and delivered it to your orthodox bishops when none have been heard about orthodox bishop condemning Eritrean government. See you Mister liar.

  2. All the Eritrean people are asking IS for ILLEGAL US-SANCTIONS to be repealed and for Ethiopia

    to leave BADME and respect EEBC ruling. All the Eritrean people want is for the US instigated,

    geopolitically centred crimes against Eritrea to be put to a stop.

    If the world would take pity on us by honouring Eritrea’s right to be heard and help us put a stop

    to the above mentioned unjust and highly criminal acts of hostility against Eritrea, then we

    Eritreans will in turn

    proceed with elections, transparancy and all that is characteristic of a democratic nation. But

    until ILLEGAL US-SANCTIONS are removed AND a stop put to the proxy occupation of our

    sovereign territories, the Eritrean leadership will continue to distrust the powers that be and

    rightly so too.

    I call on my President Isaias Afewerki to remember the genuine kindness, open-heartedness,

    magnanimity and undiscriminating love which is at the heart of the Eritrean struggle. We can

    never succeed while terrorising our own, we need only explain to those who do not

    understand and if they do not accept our point of view and opinions then we too must learn

    to accept their views and grievances and use them as a source of constructive criticism with

    which we must remedy our errors. There must be no such thing as the threat of the Eritrean

    opposition for even those who criticise the present regime love Eritrea.

    The Afar, the Nara, the Kunama, the Rashaida, the Saho, the Bilen, the Tigrinya, the Tigre and the

    Hiderab these are the nine and holy tribes of Eritrea. We want no seccessions, divisions or

    inequalities to arise between us. We must rid our hearts of all that has to do with prejudice. We

    must embrace one another like never before and this we shall do by first asserting and

    implementing the rights of our women because RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS begins with

    a true respect for womens’ rights. Though the rights of each and every Eritrean has been

    vio9lated by the US, Ethiopia and their allies, we must not be afraid to return to the source of

    love and respect which lies at the heart of all our hearts.

    So let us proceed by implementing and/or making laws which protect all Eritrean women from

    domestic violence, exploitation, sexual harrassment, rape and everything else will sort itself




    • Blink twice if you are being held against your will to write these appalling lies. What you are saying is that your lunatic leaders in your province are well within their rights to put your people through hell until these ridiculous demands are met? What has exporting human organ harvest got to do with Ethiopia occupying Badme ? What has international sanctions on armament has got to do with the languishing of over 10,000 thousands prisoners including some of your brightest minds… Eh?

      I hope your soul will burn in 4D wall hell!

    • Rahwa Tesfai you said a lot about the dictator, selfish, racist of poor Eritrea blind leader, but the fact testifies that Isayas your selfish president is the exact copy (image) of the derge mengistu regime. do not blame the current Ethiopian honey visionary leaders we ethiopian are on the verge of prosperity.

    • Who are you to talk on the names of Afar, while being seated safely at your Asmara, may be. You didn’t see the crime perpetrated against the Afar and Blen people.

    • Dear Rhwa I can tell, you love our Eritrea like most of us do. you would love to see our country prosper and compete with the rest of the world in every sector. You would love the tide of migration of our people reverse and Eritreans going back home to build our beloved country. you would love to see the basic human rights of our people respected, our tens of thousands of political prisoners freed and participate in building our beloved country. you would love to see our single university reopened and more university built. Unfortunately my sister the current regime is incapable of doing that. We have unelected government, with no law of the land (to govern us) and failed policies in every sector. Let alone restoring our country in whole they couldn’t even restore reliable electricity and fresh water in our cities. Listen to any of Isayas embarrassing interviews with a foreign media and it clearly shows how clueless he is,let alone to lead a country he cant lead a family. He is a tyrant willing to do anything including murder to stay in power. Look thousands our youngsters are abandoning our country running away from slavery and hopelessness to seek for better life. We have around twenty thousand political prisoners in jail it is NOT because they are wrong but because they have different ideas (different than the dictator). Our single university is chained locked and all our sectors are dysfunctional. My sister Rahwa if this criminals were not in power our Eritrea would prosper, we would have a better relationship with the rest of the world, we would compete in science and technology and sport (we might have our soccer team in Brazil) with the world.
      Don’t get it wrong not settling our border issue with Ethiopia shouldn’t give a reason to ISAYAS and his criminal thugs to enslave our people in the name of AGELGLOT for ever, not having a functioning elected government. It Is our enemies desire to see a failed dysfunctional Eritrea and that is exactly Isayas (pol pot of Africa) created, a stone age Eritrea. Eritreans we are smart and hard working people lets stop pampering this criminals and get rid of this regime and lets rebuild our country. I DONT HAVE TO HAVE A PERMISSION OR GOOD WILL OF MY NEIGHBOUR FOR ME TO TREAT MY LOVELY WIFE AND MY KIDS WITH RESPECT AND CARE SO THEY DO WELL IN LIFE IT IS OUR CHOICE. you cant build Eritrea by destroying Eritreans and neither the world community nor our neighbors will respect us till we learn t take care of our own. please read “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.

  3. I think it’s important to make sure that your reporting is accurate! To my knowledge, although they are very much similar, the Bishop’s were of the Gee’z Catholic Church, and not from the Tewhado Orthodox Church. Again, although both are very much similar in terms of doctrine, and service protocol, the actual letter was devised from these Catholic Abune’s.

  4. I applaud these brave men of God for taking a firm stand against the abuses and systematic violations by the despotic regime in Eritrea. Indeed, the regime is running a forced labor program disguised as “National Service” that is spawning human rights violations and the international community must take a stand. Every year around 20,000 Eritreans aged between 17 and 50 years are forced to enrol in the National Slavery Program to serve the country’s political regime. Citizens are required to work for unspecified periods, in slave-like conditions, or face incarceration in Eritrea’s notorious prison system, where detainees are seldom released. This is the reality today in Eritrea. The National Service Slavery in Eritrea must Stop, Full Stop!!