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ICC Note: Helen Berhane was tortured for her faith in an Eritrean prison. Today, she is free and lives to tell the story. Her experience is sadly much like countless other Christians in Eritrea, jailed and locked into shipping containers to roast in the desert heat, beaten and coerced to deny their faith in Christ, and then released only when they are  near death. Read Helen’s story and remember those in prison for their faith in Eritrea as though you were with them.

By Rosie Scammel

12/29/15 ROME (RNS) Gospel singer Helen Berhane found new life in Europe after fleeing Eritrea, where she was locked in a shipping container and tortured for her religious beliefs.

Berhane, who was released in 2006 after spending 32 months in custody, spoke recently at a Rome conference on Christian persecution in the hopes others might learn of the grievous human rights violations in her native land. The “Under Caesar’s Sword” conference was organized by the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame and the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. The topic of Christian persecution has been highlighted numerous times by Pope Francis during his papacy.

“The only reason they let you go is when they torture you to death,” she said. “They don’t want you to die in prison, it’s not their responsibility, so they send you home to die.”

Berhane, who was arrested for evangelizing and releasing religious music, was released only after she became deathly ill.

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