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The Government of Eritrea Raided a Presbyterian Church and Arrested its Pastor.

ICC NOTE: The deteriorating situation for Christians in Eritrea : USCIRF just included them on their list of countries for CPC designation.

5/4/07 Eritrea For the full article (Release Eritrea) – sources in Asmara have confirmed that Mehret Yesus Church – a Presbyterian Church in Eritrea was raided during Sunday Service on the 29th of April. Security forces raided the church near the administration offices of central zone (zoba Makel) commonly known as Comeciarato Hammassien.

Following the raid Pastor Zecharias Abraham and around 80 of his parishioners were detained. Among the worshippers on the day were some foreign nationals at least three of them Americans.

Mehret Yesus Church was one of the few churches that had escaped the decree that closed down all churches not belonging to the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Churches of Eritrea , five years ago. At the time of his detention Reverend Zecharias was serving as the current head of the Eritrean Evangelical Alliance, following the arrest of Haile Naizghi who was detained in May 2004.

The latest arrests have come amidst continuing detention and harassment of Christians across the country and also in a month that saw the Government of Eritrea appointing a Patriarch to the Orthodox Church of Eritrea in an outright violation of the ancient Church’s constitution. The ordained Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, has been under severe house arrest since January 2006.

In a statement Dr Berhane Asmelash said, ‘this confirms the anti religion and anti Christianity stand of the Government of Eritrea, presumably Mehret Yesus Church escaped being targeted for closure and arrests five years ago because it complied with government ‘requirements’, which is the common pretext for the closure of the other Churches, but this confirms that compliance has nothing to do with it what so ever’. On the issue of the illegal election of a new Patriarch Dr Asmelash said ‘again this only confirms the government’s anti religion stand’.