By Worthy News Senior Special Correspondent Eric Leijenaar with reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos
ASMARA, ERITREA (Worthy News) -- A Christian man has died in one of Eritrea's notorious military prison camps, the ninth believer known to have perished in detention in the African nation, a Christian aid and advocacy group told Worthy News.
In a statement seen Wednesday, July 29, Netherlands-based Open Doors said Yemane Kahasay Andom, 43, died because of torture and a lack of medical care in the Mitire military prison camp.
“For two weeks Andom was mistreated and tortured,” Open Doors added. The group said the Christian was held in an underground isolation cell, apparently after refusing to sign a document renouncing his faith in Christ.
Authorities also refused him medical treatment for a serious form of Malaria, Christians explained. It was unclear Wednesday, July 29, whether Andom was married or which family members he leaves behind.
Andom, who was detained for some eighteen months, was the third Christian believed to have died in the camp this year. Open Doors cited sources as saying that he was secretly buried within in the camp.
With the latest reported death, the death toll of imprisoned Eritrean Christian rose to at least nine, Open Doors said. Christians and several rights groups say there are some 2,800 Christians jailed under often horrific circumstances in several prisons facilities, including underground cells, containers and military prison camps.
Eritrea's government has denied mass Christian detentions saying "no groups or persons are persecuted in Eritrea for their beliefs or religion."
The Eritrean government in May 2002 outlawed all religious groups except Islam and the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches. Eritrean Christians say the government of President Isaias Afwerki has stepped up its crackdown on churches it has outlawed. Eritrea has been included in the U.S. State Department's latest list of “worst violators” of religious freedom.