(U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), January 18, 2017) WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 20, 2017 marks the 11-year anniversary of the Eritrean government’s illegal removal of Abune Antonios as the rightful Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the nation’s largest religious community. The Patriarch has been detained since 2007: His “crime” was his refusal to excommunicate 3,000 parishioners who opposed the government.
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) calls on the Eritrean government to release Abune Antonios, allow him to return to his position as Patriarch, and cease its interference in the Eritrean Orthodox Church,” said USCIRF Chair Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J. “The government’s persecution of Patriarch Antonios is only one example of the country’s grave religious freedom violations. Eritrea has been called the North Korea of Africa due to its vigorous assault on the rights of its people: Thousands are imprisoned for their religious beliefs and their real or imagined opposition to the government.” Continue reading