Three Orthodox Church Leaders Arrested in Eritrea

Sources report that Eritrea authorities arrested three Orthodox Christians last Thursday, Nov. 18.

According to The Voice of the Martyrs, Dr. Tekleab, a medical doctor, Dr. Setsum, a psychiatrist, and an Orthodox priest, Father Gebremedhin are reportedly being detained at Police Station #2 in Asmara. All three are known leaders in the Eritrean Orthodox Church and it is believed that their arrests are due to their Christian activities.

Setsum was previously arrested a few months ago but released after a week.

VOM reports that while the majority of Christians arrested in Eritrea in recent years have been evangelical Christians who have been refused permission to register, there have also been incidents where Christians from registered churches, such as the Lutheran and Orthodox, have been detained and mistreated.

Eritrea, which the U.S. State Department recently classified as a “country of particular concern” in it’s annual International Religious Freedom Report, has been noted by several agencies for its government's "poor respect for religious freedom for minority religious groups,” which sources say have continued to decline.

"The government harassed, arrested, and detained members of Pentecostal and other independent evangelical groups," the State Department said in it’s annual report released in September. "There were also numerous reports of physical torture and attempts at forced recantations."

Although much of the details of the most recent arrest are unknown, VOM reported that details are forthcoming.

In the meantime, VOM has requested that the Christian community keep the three men and their families in their prayers.