Government authorities tortured a woman to death on September 5 for refusing to deny her evangelical faith. It was the fourth such killing in less than a year, according to a Christian support organization.
Citing Christian sources in the East African nation, Open Doors reported that 33-year-old Nigsti Haile was killed for refusing to sign a letter renouncing her faith. Held at the Wi'a military training center 20 miles south of the Red Sea port of Massawa, Haile was one of 10 single Christian women arrested at an independent church gathering in Keren. The women have spent 18 months under severe pressure.
Eritrea officially recognizes only Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Christian churches. In May 2002, it outlawed independent Protestant churches, closing their buildings and banning them from meeting in private homes. Haile was a member of a Rhema church.
Earlier this year, on February 15, Magos Solomon Semere died under torture at the Adi-Nefase military confinement facility outside Assab, four and a half years after the Eritrean regime jailed him for worshiping in a banned Protestant church. And last October 17, Immanuel Andegergesh, 23, and Kibrom Firemichel, 30, were arrested for holding a religious service in a private home south of Asmara. Two days later, they died from torture wounds and severe dehydration in a military camp outside the town of Adi-Quala.
Eritrea is the only country under commercial sanctions by the U.S. for its restrictions on religious liberty and has been deemed a "country of particular concern" by the State Department since 2004.
Eritrea's government currently imprisons more than 2,000 independent Christians. All have been denied legal counsel or trial, with no written charges filed against them.