Another Christian has died while serving time in one of Eritrea’s harsh detention centers. On Sunday, January 24, Hana Hagos Asgedom, 41, became the 11th known Christian to pay with her life for her faith in Jesus Christ, reports Open Doors USA.
Asgedom, a member of Asabe Rhema Church, died of a heart attack while beingkept in solitary confinement at Alla Military Camp. Shortly before her death, she apparently endured beatings with an iron rod for refusing to “make the chief commander in the camp a cup of coffee.” When Asgedom resisted this order, which Christians interpret as sexual advances, she was apparently sent back to her cell where she endured punishment and later succumbed to the heart attack. After her arrest, Asgedom was detained at Wi’a Military Camp for three years. When the camp was dismantled seven months ago, she was moved with the other prisoners to Alla Military Camp. On arrival at the new camp, Asgedom was offered a final opportunity to renounce her faith. When she refused, she was placed in solitary confinement.
Shortly before the report on the death of Asgedom, Open Doors also learned about the release of Pastor Habtom Tewelde on the afternoon of Thursday, January 21. Pastor Habtom, 55, is a pastor of the Full Gospel Church and was arrested in 2008. He was first kept at Police Station Number 5 in the capital city of Asmara, but was relocated to Mitire Military Camp six months ago. Sources say that Pastor Habtom was released because of complications from his diabetes. With his release he was warned not to continue his Christian activities.
Also, the Eritrean government in December ordered the heads of Islam, the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church to stop receiving funding from their partners abroad. According to sources, the government indicated that they would fund and control these three government-sanctioned institutions. The order was handed to the three groups by the Department of Religious Affairs of the State of Eritrea. According to the directive, the institutions had one week to speak to their various organizations and reply to the office of Religious Affairs. The Catholic Church in Eritrea apparently replied that since the directive was against their belief and an infringement of religious freedom, they could not comply. It is not clear whether the Evangelical Lutherans or the Muslims had reacted. It appears that none of the groups have since heard from the Office of Religious Affairs again.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers