Eritrea makes no allowance for conscientious objection. Imprisonment for conscientious objection lasts far longer than the statutory 18-month service obligation. Three Jehovah’s Witnesses arrested in 1994 because they refused to perform military (but not civilian) duties, remain incarcerated incommunicado 19 years later. At least 11 other Jehovah’s Witnesses have shared their fate during the past decade.
“It began in the 1990s by persecuting Jehovah Witnesses and Muslims before initiating a brutal crackdown on Christianity that has continued since May 2002 when it outlawed all but three denominations(*). Up to 3,000 Christians are thought to be imprisoned in Eritrea without charge or trial, including members of permitted denominations.”
In April, 10 Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested in Keren, in connection with their attendance at a funeral. At the end of the year, 56 Jehovah’s Witnesses were reported to be imprisoned for practising their faith.
In August, Yohannes Haile, a Jehovah’s Witness detained since September 2008, reportedly died at Me’eter prison from the effects of extreme heat after being confined underground since October 2011. Three others detained with him were reportedly in critical condition. Their fate remained unknown.
Throughout the 20 years of Eritrea’s independence,the government of President Isaias Afewerki has systematically used arbitrary arrest and detention without trial to crush all opposition, to silence all dissent, and to punish anyone who refuses to comply with the restrictions placed on freedom of religion and belief, the system of indefinite conscription into national service and other restrictions on human rights imposed by the government.
Name of Prisoner Paulos Eyassu Isaac Mogos Negede Teklemariam Aron Abraha Mussie Fessehaye Ambakom Tsegezab Bemnet Fessehaye Henok Ghebru
SMARA, Eritrea—Misghina Gebretinsae, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned in Eritrea without any specific charges, died under mysterious circumstances during his detainment by Eritrean authorities. He was 62 years old.
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In recent years however Eritrea has become a centre of religious persecution. The Jehovah‘s Witnesses have been persecuted since the early years of Eritrea‘s independence.
On 25 October 1994, in an executive order given to the then Minister of Internal Affairs, the state president imposed the following punishment against all Jehovah‘s Witnesses:
(1) They are prohibited to work in any government institution; if they are already working, they must be dismissed.
(2) No commercial license should be given to them; if they already have, it must be revoked. They should never be given any documentation such as travel and identity papers. Jehovah‘s Witnesses are probably the most abused religious minority since the country‘s independence in 1991.
Story here …
History: JW in Eritrea
“Jehovah’s Witnesses Have Lost Citizenship Rights”
As may be recalled a presidential statement was issued on 25th October 1994, regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eritrea. Some groups have used the said statement to try to portray the government as an oppressor and abuser of human rights, and for the past two months they have been spreading misinformation about the government. However, the accusations by the Jehovah’s Witnesses have no basis whatsoever and are total lies. The truth is the following:
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The whole story … …
Ten journalists who protested against the closure of the media in 2001 remained in incommunicado detention. Four may have died in detention since 2002.
On 22 February, at least 50 employees of Radio Bana were arrested by Eritrean security forces. Although some were released, an unknown number remained in detention. They were not charged with any offence.
In January, prisoner of conscience Dawit Isaak was reportedly transferred to an Air Force hospital in Asmara. He was believed to be seriously ill, although the extent and cause of his illness remained unclear. A journalist with the newspaper Setit, he was imprisoned in 2001 following the government clampdown. He was released from custody on 19 November 2005, then re-arrested two days later on his way to hospital.
Story here . . . . .
Repression of political opposition, of the press, and of civil society.
Human Rights Council
The first religious community to suffer repression were the Jehovah Witnesses, who
effectively lost citizenship rights after refusing to participate in the national referendum on
independence, and in active military service. Many were detained and tortured; some still
remain in jail.
Story here. . . . .
For an alleged preaching the Gospel of Christ outside a Mosque in Saudi Arabia, an Eritrean Christian, Mussie Eyob, may probably face a death sentence.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious groups that the government has not granted recognition are daily facing persecution.
Storu here. . . . .
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians have received some of the worst treatment. Thousands have been imprisoned and many of them tortured in order to compel them to recant their faith. In one instance, 20 individuals, mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses and some Pentecostals, were allegedly forced into a 20-foot container during their imprisonment.
Story here. . . . .
Could anyone convince the Jehovah Witnesses and Evangelical Christians whose religions have been outlawed and who have been disenfranchised and relentlessly persecuted that the regime is not waging war on them?
Story here. . . . .
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians have received some of the worst treatment. Thousands have been imprisoned and many of them tortured in order to compel them to recant their faith. In one instance, 20 individuals, mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses and some Pentecostals, were allegedly forced into a 20-foot container during their imprisonment. Because of their religious beliefs, including conscientious objection to military service, Jehovah’s Witnesses had their citizenship revoked in 1994. They are barred from obtaining government work, business licenses and identity and travel documents.
Story here. . . . .
FINDINGS: Systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations continue in Eritrea. These violations include: arbitrary arrests and detentions without charge of members of unregistered religious groups; torture or other ill-treatment of religious prisoners, sometimes resulting in death; a prolonged ban on public religious activities by all unrecognized religious groups; closure by the authorities of the places of worship of these groups; inordinate delays on registration applications from religious groups; and the disruption of private religious gatherings and social events of members of unregistered groups.
Story here. . . . .
As of May 2010
(Listed by Date of Imprisonment)
Among the members of religious minorities imprisoned in Eritrea are 55 Christians who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, including men in their 70s, women in their 50s and children as young as 3 and 4.
Fesehaye testified that her family lived in Addis Ababa until 1991, when Eritrea won provisional independence from the Ethiopian government. Her family then moved to Asmara, Eritrea, where they lived for three years. Fesehaye testified that her family returned to Addis Ababa in 1994 because her mother’s Jehovah’s Witness faith precluded her from voting in the Eritrean independence referendum and not voting would have placed her mother at risk of persecution from the Eritrean government. Fesehaye testified that after returning to Ethiopia, she frequently witnessed police officers arrest and assault innocent Eritreans.
Members of banned religious groups remained at risk of harassment, arrest and incommunicado detention. Only four religious institutions are officially recognized in Eritrea since 2002, namely the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, Lutheran Church and Islam.
At least 22 Jehovah´s Witnesses were reportedly arrested, bringing the number of those detained due to conscientious objection and religious activities to at least 61.
National service was mandatory for men and women at least 18 years of age. Jehovah´s Witnesses were particularly at risk due to their conscientious objection to military service.
The cases of violation of freedom of religion are far more flagrant in Abyssinia (Fake Ethiopia) than in Eritrea; according to the Amnesty International Report, the Jehovah´s Witnesses are persecuted in Eritrea.