By BosNewsLife Correspondents Eric Leijenaar and Stefan J. Bos
ASMARA, ERITREA (BosNewsLife)– Another evangelical Christian has died in one of Eritrea’s most feared military detention facilities after authorities apparently refused to provide him with medicines against malaria, Christians with close knowledge about the situation told BosNewsLife Monday, November 3.
Teklesenbet Gebreab Kiflom, 36, was the second Christian known to have died because of malaria in Eritrea’s Wiâ€™a Military Training Center, located some 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the Red Sea port of Massawa, said Netherlands-based Open Doors, a Christian rights and aid group.
In June, 37-year-old evangelical Christian Azib Simon died of Malaria, BosNewsLife learned. Kiflom, a member of the Full Gospel Church, was detained last year while attending a prayer meeting, Christians said. He was allegedly mistreated by security forces, as part of a government backed crackdown on active Christians in the east African nation.
It was not immediately clear when Kiflom died, but sources said he had been buried â€œin secretâ€ in the Wi’a area. Kiflom was reportedly the only child and leaves behind his 88-year-old mother.
Kiflom’s death comes amid reports that 65 evangelical believers, including 14 women, were detained last week. “It seems that these Christians were discovered with the help of government informants. They were detained one by one from their home or working place and transferred,” most likely to a new military camp, known as Mitire, in northeastern Eritrea, Open Doors said, citing local sources.
Observers have described Mitire has a â€œspecial military concentration campâ€ set up by the Eritrean government for religious prisoners. Over 100 Christians detained because of their faith have reportedly been transported to the camp. â€œMitire is notorious because of the extreme heat there throughout the year,â€ Open Doors said.
Eritrean authorities began persecution Christians in May 2002 after controversial legislation only recognized the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran Church as “official denominations”, although church leaders there have also reported tensions. At least 2,000 Eritrean Christians are held without charges in local prisons of military camps, including in shipping containers, to pressure them to abandon their faith in Christ, local Christians and independent investigators have said.
Open Doors said it had urged Christians to pray and added that two years ago it collected some 60,000 signatures in the Netherlands for a protest petition presented to the Eritrean Embassy in The Hague.
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