Eritrean senior pastor arrested for second time

By October 9, 2007

Eritrea (MNN) — A well-known pastor of an Eritrean
church, Oqbamichael Tekle-Haimanot, was arrested and imprisoned on October 1,
according to Voice of the Martyrs Canada sources.  Tekle-Haimanot leads the Kale-Hiwot Church.

Kale Hiwot is an evangelical church, and some of its properties had been spared from government seizure. Most of the other evangelical churches, states Compass Direct, have been forced to shut their doors, and their leaders and members have been jailed. Many of these people are still being detained in shipping containers, without charges.

This most recent case is the second imprisonment for this
church leader in the last two years. He
was first arrested in 2005 at a Christian wedding in the western town of
Barentu. Tekle-Haimanot was released after nearly ten
months of imprisonment in the Sawa Military Camp

Tekle-Haimanot's arrest follows the recent imprisonment of an
evangelist, Mussie Ezaz, who is also a minister in this same church. 

Since May 2002, the Eritrean government has banned
all independent religious groups not under the umbrella of the Orthodox,
Catholic, Lutheran or Muslim faiths. Dozens of independent Protestant churches
have been denied legal registration and outlawed.

Everyone caught worshipping outside these
government-sanctioned institutions — even in small handfuls in private homes —
is arrested, tortured or subjected to severe pressure to deny their religious
beliefs. At least two thousand Eritrean citizens are jailed solely for their
religious beliefs, without any access to judicial process.

Please pray for their continued boldness.

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