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Eritrean troops killing Ethiopian Orthodox priests in Tigray

November 6, 2021

Christians make up over 60% of the population of Ethiopia, but are still subject to persecution. Most Christians in Ethiopia are members of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, which separated from Holy Orthodoxy over the definition of the divine and human natures of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451. 

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Ethiopia, see here.

“Christian Priests Targeted In Tigray,” Release International, November 1, 2021:

Eritrea exports Christian persecution in Tigray conflict; call to churches to join International Day of Prayer in November.

Contacts of Release International say Christian priests continue to be targeted and killed by Eritrean forces in the ongoing conflict in Tigray.

Release International warns hostility towards Christians in Eritrea is being exported to neighbouring Ethiopia, where Eritrean forces have joined in the fighting.

Release is calling UK churches to pray for Eritrea during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 7.

A year ago, in November 2020, Eritrean forces killed 750 civilians in the sacred city of Aksum – including, according to Orthodox Church sources, ‘at least 78 priests’.

And the killing of priests did not stop there, says former prisoner of faith, Helen Berhane, who warns hostility towards Christians is overflowing from Eritrea.

‘Priests are dying’

‘Eritrean troops are killing a lot of priests and raping their wives,’ she says.

‘Some of the priests stand holding their crosses, so they cut their hands. And when the soldiers ask the priests to remove their hats, when they say no, they shoot them. Hundreds of priests are dying in this conflict at the hands of Eritrean soldiers,’ she says.

The authoritarian government in Eritrea forced most churches to close in 2002 and has arrested and detained many Christians indefinitely. Some, like Helen Berhane, have been brutally tortured.

Helen was locked up in a shipping container in the desert along with other Christians, baking by day and freezing by night. She was beaten to try to make her renounce her faith, but she refused. She is now living in Europe and continues to campaign on behalf of persecuted Eritrean Christians.

‘Control’

A fellow campaigner is Dr Berhane Asmelash, a partner of Release International. He says: ‘Christians have been the most persecuted group of people in Eritrea. It is because they won’t stop gathering and won’t stop worshipping. It is beyond the government’s control.’

The totalitarian government in Eritrea exercises rigid control over its citizens. Many have fled the country. According to the UN, half a million have left – up to ten per cent of the population.

‘Yet,’ says Doctor Berhane, ‘Christianity has continued to grow in Eritrea.’

UK-based Release International, which serves persecuted Christians around the world, has long been calling for freedom of faith in Eritrea….