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Friday May 19, 2006

ERITREA : POLICE ARREST MOTHER OF DYING BABY

In Asmara , 50 evangelical students given harsh military punishment.

May 19 (Compass Direct) – Two days after an evangelical Christian mother was arrested from her home and jailed by Eritrean police, her 6-month-old son has died on his sickbed in Nefasit, 10 miles east of Asmara .

Ghenet Gebremariam was arrested on May 8 with two other Protestant women, all members of Nefasit’s banned Full Gospel Church . They were detained on accusations of “actively witnessing about Christ” to the inhabitants of their town, local Christians confirmed to Compass today. All three were mothers forced to leave young children behind in their homes.

Two days later, Gebremariam’s baby, Hazaiel Daniel, died of unknown causes. When news of the baby’s death reached security police in Nefasit, they agreed to release his mother on bail.

The other two mothers, Meslale Abraham and Alganshe Tsagay, remain in police custody, still separated from their children.

Police gave no reason for the arrest of the three women, apart from their involvement in one of Eritrea ’s outlawed Protestant churches.

Since May of 2002, the Eritrean government has banned all Christian churches independent of the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran communities.

Any violators caught worshipping or practicing their faith outside the three government-sanctioned churches are jailed for weeks, months or even years. Hundreds have been subjected to severe physical mistreatment over the past four years in an attempt to force them to recant their Protestant beliefs.