Radio Erena: 14 June 2019
Eritrean security agents have illegally detained five monks from the Debre Bizen Orthodox monastery on the morning of 13 June.
The monks, three of whom are in their seventies, were jailed in relation to the friction between the Orthodox Church and the PFDJ government which resulted from the government’s interventions in the affairs of the Church. Since 2008, dozens of monks who stood against the interventions have been taken by government agents and jailed without any due court process.
According to Father Semere of the Abune TekleHaimanot Eritrean Orthodox church in Israel, who previously was a member of the Debre Bizen mosatery, and who spoke to Radio Erena on the recent arrests, monks from different monasteries have been jailed by security agents and released on many occasions in the last decade.
The monks detained in the latest round of arrests are Father KibreAb Tekie, Father Marqos GebreKidan, Father KidaneMariam Tekheste, Father GebreTinsae Zemikael and Father GebreTinsae TeweldeMedihin.
Father Kibreab Tekie had previously been detained in 2015 and released after 22 months, but taken back to jail within a few weeks and released again in late 2017. The three oldest of the monks had also been illegally detained for around 40 days at the end of 2017. They were accused of excommunicating the government approved new patriarch who was brought to the seat after the duly elected patriarch of the church was placed under house arrest. Various monasteries have excommunicated the new patriarch on the grounds that a living Patriarch of the Church cannot be replaced in the absence of any exceptional grounds and due procedure.