Monday, November 06, 2006

Our World Today - Torture

The news today is not good. We know it will not get better. Article from MSN News. (Eritrea is on the eastern border of Africa).

An Eritrean gospel singer, jailed because of her Christian beliefs and allegedly tortured, has been released after two years in detention, said Amnesty International.

CBC Arts
The human rights group announced Helen Berhane was let go after being held without charge at the Mai Serwa military camp north of the capital Asmara.

"She’s not in good health but at least she's released," Martin Hill of Amnesty told BBC radio on Sunday.

"We understand she’s at her home, or her family home."

Hill said the singer was confined to a wheelchair, the culmination of injuries to her feet and legs.

"The authorities reportedly tortured her many times to make her recant her faith," Amnesty International said in a statement. The organization said it didn't know the exact day Berhane was let go, but concluded that it happened this week.

The group's website says the 30-year-old performer was arrested on May 13, 2004, shortly after she released an album of Christian music. She was detained after refusing to sign a document vowing to end all participation in Christian activities.

The site said Berhane "spent most of her time in detention in a metal shipping container, suffocating hot during the day and freezing cold at night" with no toilet or washing facilities.

Eritrean government criticizes Amnesty

Eritrea's Foreign Minister Ali Abdu denies any knowledge of her case. Instead, he reacted to Amnesty International's announcement by attacking the organization.

"Who has given them the right to be the global police of this world?" said Abdu.

Amnesty International says 2,000 members of evangelical church groups have been arrested over several years.

The government permits only three Christian groups to meet: Orthodox, evangelical Lutheran, and Catholics. Berhane belonged to the unregistered Rema Church.

The number of Muslims and Christians in the African nation are about equal, but the government fears an imbalance could create a violent conflict and is concerned about a rising number of Christian groups.

The U.S. State Department listed Eritrea in September among eight countries cited for severe violations of religious freedoms. The others were: Iran, Burma, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam.

With files from the Associated Press

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