Young Woman Killed in Eritrea for Refusing to Renounce Jesus Christ

Christians have been left outraged by the death of a young woman in Eritrea allegedly tortured to death in a military facility for refusing to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ, reported the persecution watchdog ministry Open Doors.

Migsti Haile, 33, died this past Wednesday at the Weaa Military Training Center and is the fourth Christian known to have been killed this way in the past year.

Open Doors said Haile was tortured specifically for refusing to "sign a letter recanting her faith".

It is believed she spent 18 months in prison "under severe pressure" since she and nine other single Christian women were arrested at a church gathering in Keren.

The latest news of persecution will further increase international pressure on the Eritrean government to take action to guarantee religious freedom.

At least 2,000 mostly Christian evangelicals are detained in Eritrean prisons, police stations, military camps and other facilities, including even shipping containers, according to a number of human rights groups. The Eritrean government, however, has denied any such abuses.

The director of the Office of the Eritrean President, Yemane Gebremeskel, said recently that reports of mass arrests are "distorted and exaggerated."

Open Doors has expressed grave concerns over the possibility that more prisoners, including priests and pastors, may be killed by the same method of torture.

The Christian organization reported that the prisoners "remain locked up and [are] subjected to severe torture for their religious beliefs in the nation's jails, police stations and military camps. All have been denied legal counsel or trial, with no written charges filed against them."

"We need to keep up our prayer vigil for the Christians in Eritrea," Open Doors USA President Carl Moeller commented. "Eritrea is a small country in Africa, but that doesn't mean the persecution is less intense than in larger countries."

In May, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that Eritrea be re-designated as one of 11 "countries of particular concern" for 2007. In including Eritrea on the list, the report noted that "religious freedom conditions continued to deteriorate in Eritrea, where the government engages in systematic and egregious religious freedom violations…."

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