Eritrea, known as the “North Korea of Africa” and as the “Great Prison,” continues to oppress Christians and religious minorities, dissidents and journalists. Controlled by President Isaias Afwerki, a bonefide dictator in the words of his own people, the Eritrean regime arrests, detains and tortures those found meeting for prayer, worshipping with expressed governmental permission or toting a Bible. An Eritrean refugee now living in Israel who, after escaping Eritrea, was trafficked to the Sinai Peninsula and tortured by ethnically Arab nomads, told Paul Calvert, “The situation is really dire. People have lost their sense of freedom because there is a totalitarian state. We have a crazy dictator for a president and there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of worship; basically no freedom. You just do what you are told, or else.” In a recent letter, Catholic bihsops referred to the North African nation as “desolate.”
06/18/2014 Eritrea (Awate.com) – In a spiritually embellished letter, four Eritrean Catholic bishops issued a letter addressed to the Eritrean people.
In the 38-page letter that the Catholic Bishops from the eparchies of Segeneiti, Asmara, Keren and Barentu wrote, they described the situation in Eritrea and appealed to the faithful to find solutions to the economic crisis, excessive exile, and other limitless predicaments from which Eritreans are suffering and are caused by the “no peace no war” situation prevailing in Eritrea.
The title of the Bishops’ letter, “Where Is Your Brother?” is borrowed from the Holy Bible: it emphasizes sympathy and urges the faithful to find a solution for their problems. The letter was issued on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the independence of Eritrea which was celebrated on May 25, 2014.
The letter bears the signatures of the following bishops:
1. Father Mengsteab Tesfamariam, Eparch of Asmara.
2. Father Tomas Osman, Eparch of Barentu.
3. Father Kidane Yeabio, Eparch of Keren, and
4. Father Feqremariam Hagos, Eparch of Segeneiti.
Citing the Lampedusa tragedy of October 3, 2013, and the fear and terror it created among Eritreans, the letter states, “Since the environment we are in aggravates the situation, instead of finding solutions to prevent similar incidents from being repeated, those of us who made the the disaster facing our children a matter limited to conversation and news are facing a disturbing question that is making us sleepless.”
“Where Is Your Brother?” addresses all major issues facing Eritreans, including the moral and psychological damage inflicted upon the people; the poor educational status of the country; lack of rule of law; weakness of spirituality; economic hardships, and disasters befalling the youth in their attempt to flee the situation at home, and facing great risks on their journey in the deserts and seas. It also raised a multitude of social, spiritual, economic, and legal issues.