Socio-Political Opinions

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Eritrea's Forgotten Heroes <br/><br/> <p><q>Eritrea has been dealt one of the cruelest hands in Africa. First there was brutal oppression at the hands of Italian colonists. Then there was a bloody struggle against Ethiopia. Now there is the specter of a homegrown despot, intent on retaining power even when that means driving his nation to ruin.</q> - Tom Downey</p>

Introduction

These opinions are personal observations of the socio-political environment in Eritrea. They are commentary on a particular subject or online informational diaries. It is more of an organizational "SNEM" blog than a personal blog. They are contributions of different writers or bloggers. And as a blog each topic could be updated from time to time according to the upgraded knowledge of the writer in order to improve the quality of its content.

Through blogs one can form opinions. The impact of blogging in increasing awareness on a particular subject has been acknowledged by modern society. Blogging gives an equal voice to the citizens. It will help us to listen both local and international voices in the affairs of our beloved nation.

Titles

  1. Abuse of Religious Texts
  2. Reign of Terror
  3. A Voice to the Voiceless
  4. A Time to Mourn
  5. Systematic Tyrannical Fear
  6. Poisoning the Nation
  7. Constructive Debate
  8. Eritrea's Forgotten Heroes
  9. Enough is Enough!

Abuse of Religious Texts

"Every word of God is flawless..."

One Sunday morning after church I had a plan to visit a good brother and friend of mine at his house. Once the church program was over I switched on my cellphone and saw an in-box message from this friend. And it read, "They are in our compound, do not come till I inform you!" It was at the time when the terrorists attacked and that created a great panic in the nation. And as my friend, who is currently residing in the United States of America, used to live in an African nation as a refugee in a place where many Somalis live, it was under constant and heavy security surveillance. Sadly time and again some rogue officers and many a time ex-army officers and police impersonators use these kinds of unfortunate circumstances to harass and intimidate refugees and other foreigners by forcing themselves inside their compounds without any proper court order in order to extort money. This is what was happened in my friend's compound at that moment.

I went to a cafeteria and began to wait for my friend's message. When he finally send his 'alpha bravo charlie' signal, I went to his house. He told me after they had solicited, body searched and collected some money they left. All that time my friend was quietly and eagerly waiting their departure in his two by one and half meter room. Most of the houses in that neighborhood use a padlock. And one can easily identify whether someone is inside the room or not. But my friend in his wit used a lockset which can be locked with a key on both the inside and outside. And no one could exactly know whether someone is inside the house or not.

However the aim of this message is not exactly about my friend's unique lockset. I have brought it only to show that in life there are things while they are in reality either black or white but the situation might make them to look like gray. They are neither black nor white. This is a reality specially in the realm of politics where expediency rules. Someone said, "When a politician says 'yes', it really means 'may be', when he says 'may be', it really means 'no'. If a politician says 'no', it means that he is not a real politician."

What is most distressing is when one use the holy word of God in a casual and political way. Nowadays people are no more afraid to quote a verse or verses from the Bible to convince others black is not black and white is not white, but gray. This is pure blaspheme. For instance, there is no gray area in the concept of justice; then how is it possible one could oppose injustice in one place but not in other? I personally and some of my colleagues have regularly received a lot of misguided 'corrective' in-box messages which say "Turn to God" followed by multiple Bible verses and sometimes video sermons whenever we have raised the issue of oppression and injustice in Eritrea, but always applauded when we raise the barbarism of ISIS.

Therefore, my appeal to my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ is let's refrain from using the flawless word of God in a flawed way. However if we want to be a politician, let's study its rule and play accordingly. And always remember to keep the word of God holy!

- BM

Reign of Terror

This morning I heard an interview in BBC radio station with a title “Life in an Eritrean Prison.” The interviewee mentioned two kinds of torture devices in Eritrea, namely 'helicopter' and 'almaz'. And it reminds me of two young hardworking and intelligent friends of mine, Kiar and Ambasajer. They both suffered a lot while they were in the military because of their faith. Kiar is a Muslim and Ambasajer is a pentecostal christian. They were devoted to their beliefs. And as the corrupt despotic regime in Eritrea demands total devotion to itself, their faith was considered a felony. Consequently they were tortured in 'helicopter' and 'almaz' and many more.

Appearance of 'Helicopter' Torture

The victim will lie down on the ground flat on his belly; then his/her arms tightly tied by a strong cord will be pinned from behind; after that similarly his/her legs tightly tied with a strong cord will be pinned from behind; finally the cords which bound the arms and the legs will be tightly tied together with another strong cord. Now anyone could easily imagine why it is called 'Helicopter'. The victim bears a resemblance to helicopter. To make the suffering worse sugar water or powder milk (famously known in Eritrea as 'salsay alem') will be poured on the body of the victim in order to attract flies and the other insects and the sufferer will be left in hot sun or cold place according to the season. A number of victims were amputated their hands because of this kind of torture.

Appearance of 'Almaz' Torture

The victim will stand in upright position and his/her arms tightly tied by a strong cord will be pinned from behind; then the rope which bound the arms will be tied in a tree branch or a pole. The legs of the victim will not be allowed to touch the ground, instead they will be left to hang on air. It is similar to crucifixion but without a nail. It causes shortness of breath and it is extremely painful. No one could endure it for more than few minutes without beginning to shout in pain. It is called 'almaz” because once upon a time a victim while he was tortured in 'almaz', he began to shout by calling his mother's name. 'Almaz' is a famous name given to baby girls in Eritrea. Although 'Almaz' means diamond but not in this case of torture.

And I read in an internet that rope torture is one of the 25 most brutal torture techniques ever devised in history.

Few years back it was in a place called Ras Darma, which is a small port about 30 km north of port of Assab. The tormentors decided to torture our friend Kiar in 'almaz'. However, there is no vegetation in that place and the land is full of desert stones. Therefore, there is no tree and it is not also easy to dig a hole in order to put a hanging pole. Then they devised a new way of torture. They brought two barrels and put them side by side about three meters aside. They placed a pole upon the two barrels horizontally. Then they first tied Kiar in 'helicopter' position and then again tied him horizontally with the pole which was placed in the barrel. They applied both torture devices ['helicopter and almaz'] on him at one time. How could we forget his non-stop groan in anguish!

Ambasajer is a harmless and very kind person but that did not save him from being repeatedly abused and tortured. I wonder how both Kiar and Ambasajer survived all that torture. Now they are both forced to flee to foreign land leaving their beloved nation and people behind them.

However many of our friends are still inside Eritrea and they are under continuous severe oppression and torture. That's why although some of us are in a much safer place but we can not rest till they and the country at large be set free. And some naively think that our voices will not make a difference. This might be because they are neither a tormentor nor a tormented; but both the tormentor and the tormented clearly hear our voices; and one is shaken by it and has a sleepless night scheming on how to silence it; and the other is saying it is too low to be heard and urge a louder voice.

Finally, on a lighter note, I just came from Tuesday evening prayer meeting. And I was a bit surprised and excited to hear one of the thanksgiving messages in our prayer meeting was, “UN Report – Eritrea violating human rights on massive scale.” And they said, "God has exposed evil and he deserves a thanksgiving. And this is just the beginning of answered prayers for Eritrea. We are yet to see big things." You may think it is an Eritrean church but it is not. In fact I might be the only one, with may be one or two others, who are Eritreans, among the ten thousand congregants in the church. I wonder whether this UN report will be celebrated in Eritrean churches and else. I only hope so!

- BM

A Voice to the Voiceless

"... and over them both are others higher still." - Eccl 5:8

Few years back I met a colleague whom I knew back at home. He was in Eritrea's prison jail for four good years without any court's due process. And in our conversation he said, "The man is working extremely hard [when you hear words like leader, great leader, dear leader, leader for life, chief, guide, captain, boss, and of course 'the man' are all titles used by despots]. Do you know that you will find him at 4 am in the morning in Asmara-Massawa highway driving a four-wheel drive by himself in order to supervise some unfinished projects in the city of Massawa? The culprits are those who are under him."

I said to myself despite all the hardship he passed through he just doesn't get it. Any way even assuming that he might be repeating what others are saying in the streets of Asmara, but to supervise big or small factory's construction is not the job description of a President of a whole nation, unless he is idle or obsessed about everything.

And this morning this word of wisdom came to mind: "If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still." What this eternal truth tells me is that the ultimate responsible organ in a national justice failure is the king or the president or the prime minister, whoever of them is in the top position of leadership. Organized evil has always a hierarchy and it goes top to bottom.

Sadly some think exposing this kind of evil is ungodly. In last Friday's vigil prayer night one brother asked me, "Whether what they hear about the persecution of our beloved brothers and sisters in Eritrea is true?" My immediate reaction was anger. "How dare he asks such an obvious question?" I truly felt insulted. But then I realized that how could they know unless we told them. Some Eritrean evangelical christians have been systematically indoctrinated by some of their own "shepherds", for the reason only these "teachers" knew, not to say anything about those who are persecuting our brothers and sisters in Eritrea, especially mentioning the name of the dictator is considered as committing an unforgivable sin; to borrow the term which our Catholic brethren use, it is a cardinal sin or mortal sin or eternal sin. The truth of the matter is light should expose evil but not hide it.

Allow me to finish my brief reflection by quoting Richard Wurmbrand, the author of the famous book, Tortured for Christ, a Romanian Christian minister of Jewish descent who daring to publicly say that Communism and Christianity were not compatible, that he was sentenced in total of 33 years and experienced 13 years of imprisonment and torture for his beliefs. He said, "Some tell me 'Preach the pure gospel!' This reminds me that the Communist secret police also told me to preach Christ, but not to mention communism. I don't know what this so-called pure gospel is. Was the preaching of John the Baptist pure? He did not say only, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Mat 3:2). He also "rebuked [Herod]...for all the evils which Herod had done" (Lk 3:19). He was beheaded because he didn't confine himself to abstract teaching. Jesus did not preach only the "pure" Sermon on the Mount, but also what some actual church leaders would have called a negative sermon: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!...Serpents, brood of vipers!" (Mat 23:27,33). It is for such "impure" preaching that He was crucified. The Pharisees would not have bothered about the Sermon on the Mount."

- BM

A time to mourn

A fortnight ago a good sister of mine came to my house. In our conversation she told me about the marriage of a fine gentleman whom we had both developed a good relationship for about a month before he left to the United States of America. And she said, "His ex-fiancee is still in Eritrea. And he used to testify that she had sacrificed a lot for him before he left the country. But now he said he could not be able to honor their oath because of the difficult life circumstances in America." I puzzled over it for awhile and I thought what could make one to go this low and commit such a disgraceful act of betrayal. And I wondered if I could ever trust this polished looking man.

Promises and hopes of individuals and peoples are shattered by those whom they had most trusted. This is all because few despised the oath by breaking the covenant. May 24 is one such reminder of a tragedy in Eritrea's history. The sweet day which supposes to bring freedom, joy and hope turned sour into bondage, grief and despair. No wonder God hates seven things and two of them are related to lie. And breaking a covenant is an apex of lie and deceit. Then if God the Almighty himself despises it, how could anyone expect us to celebrate this wretchedness? How can we sing the songs of independence while in a persecuted land? After all what is May 24 for those who are unjustly imprisoned? And if they can't celebrate it, then how could we joyfully commemorate it in the streets of Asmara or else? The fact of the matter is May 24 has sadly died more than a decade ago and till it resurrects again it should only be bitterly mourned.

Therefore, Cry my beloved country, specially today on May 24!

- BM

Systematic Tyrannical Fear

Today a good brother of mine said it is beyond his comprehension on how Eritreans could not be able to rise up and change the persistent harsh brutality in the nation. And I said although in the end tyranny will surely fall but in order to hasten its downfall it needs people's political awareness and reasonable sacrifice. Proper knowledge and audacity are the key ingredients for democratic change. On the other hand dictatorship thrives on lack of information and fear. It survives through deception and terror. And it invests a lot in those areas.

Few months ago a friend of mine came from Eritrea. And I informed him my brief personal observation that many might simply expect that those who had been unjustly imprisoned and suddenly freed, after being arrived in a relatively free and safer place to be bold and fight for the freedom of those whom they left behind, but in reality the majority prefer to isolate themselves and live a quiet life. And he agreed with my modest remark and he told me at one time that was a major concern and prayer issue in Eritrean evangelical circle, because one could only come out of those harsh prisons after a deliberate fear been instilled in that person. And this kind of fear is not dependent of time and place.

And yesterday I was watching a film called "The Lives of Others (German: Das Leben der Anderen). It is a 2006 German drama film, which revolves around the schemes of the East German Security Service, Stasi. And the following excerpt which is taken from this film reminds me of what I have briefly mentioned above in regard to the deliberate evil act of tyranny. It is a conversation between two Stasi officers.

"Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz: Weisler I am glad you are here. I have to show you something: "Prison Conditions for Subversive Artists: Based on Character Profile". Pretty scientific, eh? And look at this: "Dissertation Supervisor, A. Grubitz". That's great, isn't it? I only gave him a B. They shouldn't think getting a doctorate with me is easy. But this is first-class. Did you know that there are just five types of artists? Your guy, Dreyman, is a Type 4, a "hysterical anthropocentrist." Can't bear being alone, always talking, needing friends. That type should never be brought to trial. They thrive on that. Temporary detention is the best way to deal with them. Complete isolation and no set release date. No human contact the whole time, not even with the guards. Good treatment, no harassment, no abuse, no scandals, nothing they could write about later. After 10 months, we release. Suddenly, that guy won't cause us any more trouble. Know what the best part is? Most type 4s we've processed in this way never write anything again. Or paint anything, or whatever artists do. And that without any use of force. Just like that. Kind of like a present."

- The Lives of Others, dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Sony Pictures Classics, 2006). 01:21:32 - 01:23:12.

In fact when I heard the word "good treatment" in the above excerpt, it reminds me of what the above mentioned friend told me. He said at one time the imprisoned senior pastors were in a very bad condition, but recently they have been treating them fairly. Now we all know that, it is a change of tyrannical tactic in order to silence them in case they would be free because of inside and outside pressure.

*Warning: The film "The Lives of Others" has some adult scene. And if you have decided to watch it, you may need to fast forward it when you are uncomfortable. Therefore viewers discretion is advised.

- BM

Poisoning the Nation

This Sunday I visited my friend's house who recently came from Eritrea. And during our conversation we talked about the harmful effect of cigarette. However what might interest you is the following brief sad story.

He asked me, "Do you know that there is a cigarette called 'Royal' in Eritrea?"

I replied, "No."

He said, “As you know the last seven or eight years almost every commodity such as sugar, oil, fuel, etc. is smuggled from neighboring countries. And this happens in broad daylight with the collaboration of the regime's security apparatus.”

I said, “Yes I know that but what is special about this Royal cigarette?”

He said, “It is a contraband cigarette. It has severe side effect. Those who smoked it would cough and spit something with a 'size of a baby' out of their mouth, especially when they wake up in the morning. They also now and again scratch the left side of their head and different parts of their body.”

And when I came back to my place, I googled and found out that Royal Cigarette, a tobacco company from Brunant, is no longer in existence. It was shut down between 2001 and 2003 by a court order. This illicit cigarette all along been fabricated in dubious places and smuggled to Eritrea and sold in an open market.

I deeply mourn for my people seeing them poisoned by irresponsible and repulsive regime. And I began to reflect and agonize on 24 years of poison, prison and persecution in Eritrea. And then I visualized in my spirit all that grief vanished like a vapor and I saw the day we will all say,"The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Eritrea, he will bless the house of Brehane-meskel."

- BM

Constructive Debate

Nelson Mandela once said, “A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed."

In the 90's the World Bank sent a senior financial expert to Eritrea for two weeks workshop. The expert was a Caucasian Canadian. He was a friendly fellow and a very good communicator. At that time most of us who were participated in that study group were new but highly spirited “all know it” employees. The first three consecutive days of the discussion passed by asking him so many questions. We were thrilled seeing him agonizing to answer our fierce interrogation.

On the fourth day the Deputy Head of Department came to observe the workshop. To show our keen intelligence to our senior we continued to torment our guest. At break-time we were called for a staff meeting. And we all came to the gathering our head up and chest out to hear a “job well done” message. After all we had obliterated the good expert. However in that meeting we got a lifetime lesson. The Deputy said, “The World Bank expert has come to Eritrea paid thousands of dollars to share his know how. He is not here to learn from you; and you are not here to teach him but to learn. You need to be wise enough to take advantage of his presence by encouraging him to give you more of his knowledge. But now to the contrary much of the debate is deviated from the main topic. And by doing that you will gain nothing.”

A constructive debate is about comparing and contrasting ideas. It has a claim to be proven, a warrant of evidence and impact of why it matters. It focus on a given topic. Its goal is to search for a truth based on rational arguments. It is a quest for the best answer. It is more of listening than responding. It is about accepting or rejecting either the affirmative or the negative of a given idea. It is how to articulate ideas. Through it we build friendship. We develop our analytical, research, listening and note taking skills. Most of all it is fun.

However debate is not a love or hate affair. It is not about belittling others. It is not personal destruction. It is not about prejudicing others based on their race or political views. It is not an endless back and forth fight or quarrel. It is not an attitude of I am always right. It is not expecting others to agree with you by all means. It is not a pointless talk or rambling aimlessly.

Debate is an art which we all need to learn. Disagreeing with someone is not easy. Nor is it easy when someone disagrees with you. It needs a skill to handle it. Debate value civility, even in disagreement. It requires openness to be convinced and change previous views. Finally we should do our best to learn on how to effectively speak our minds. Social-medias like Facebook are good places to practice and apply our debating skills.

- BM

Eritrea's Forgotten Heroes

After months of busy schedule I decided to visit a friend. He lives in an area where most Eritreans live. The day was freezing and rainy. When I entered to their compound, where there are many single rooms which are occupied by Eritreans and Ethiopians tenants, I saw a Habesha man lying down on the cold ground with a bottle of cheap alcoholic drink besides him. It also seems he was chewing chat leaves which made him in a state of high mood of day dreaming.

After we entered in to my friend''s room, I asked him, "Why is that man outside in the cold?" He said, that is where he lives day and night. That open compound is his house. That''s what he can afford. The man is an Eritrean. He has been in exile as a refugee for the last ten years. Previously he was a member of the Eritrean People''s Liberation Front. He joined the EPLF in 1978. I began to imagine how his parents, siblings, friends and neighbors used to narrate about him in those old days while he was a fighter. He was their pride. They used to walk their head up because of this heroic son. Whenever people saw his father or mother, the first thing which came out of their mouth was, "Here comes the father or mother of the freedom fighter." Sadly now the nation which he pushed with all his might in order to be born turned to a thorn and throw him away in a cold foreign land.

I heard a story of an ex-freedom fighter that the Eritrean regime took her to one of its dungeons and they used to turn her upside down and beat her sole foot till it bled and they get tired. And to humiliate her she was beaten by her far juniors in the military "national service recruits." All this horror was happened not because of she is a criminal but just to force her to confess against some senior government officials which they wanted to eliminate.

I also heard very senior ex-freedom fighters who were called for military renewal training in a place called Embatikla were deliberately insulted and abused, and called names by very junior female national service recruit trainers, who might be in their children''s age.

An Eritrean hero called "chealo" whom in his name a hillock around Massawa was named, the regime fired him from his work on issues of loyalty to the party; and eventually he died in depression. This is just to show the systematic humiliation done upon some members of ex-freedom fighters.

I think it is Abraham Lincoln who said, "Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure."

- BM

Enough is Enough!

One time a dear sister of mine informed me that almost all her entire family members had been put into prison in the mass arrest of Christians by the security organs of the paranoid regime in Asmara. This was a depressing news which broke my heart. I didn''t even know how to comfort her. It was one of those moments where words would not be enough.

Allow me to ask you some critical questions which I have been asking myself. How do you feel if your father, mother, husband, wife, children, brothers, sisters and other very close loved ones have been thrown into prison for no logical reason at all? And your parents are old and might be in need of daily medical attention. And not to mention most of them have left small children behind at home.

Here know that I am not expecting the usual answer, "I feel sad!" Rather I just want you to feel it hard. To make it personal. To be confused and frustrated. To ask the question "why?" To be truly agitated and angry. To stir up your holy indignation. To say, "Enough is enough and silent no more!"

It makes me nauseous to think that for long as a people we have been taking human rights abuse in Eritrea so lightly. We develop a strange culture of tolerance towards injustice. We indifferently say, "They have arrested them accordingly in time they will release them." Often the journey of our sadness will come to a halt with the sense of joy of their release. Then another arrest and release will continue in a vicious circle. As a result our despair is going from bad to worse. The best medicine we could recommend is to flee from the country. Despite we all know that this can not cure the root cause but only the surface.

A while back I was informed a great servant of God and an outstanding Physician had been arrested and released for the third time over a span of ten years in Eritrea. It became a norm for his beloved family to starve while he was in prison. His ordeal was beyond words. It is also wise to meditate on 5 medical doctors for 100,000 patients ratio in Eritrea. Doctors have been payed peanuts, ill treated, demoralized, put in prison and finally flee from the nation. Subsequently patients are unattended and dying in many hospitals.

About two years ago a wonderful brother went to the LORD after being released from prison. He was arrested for about four years in solitary and developed a deadly lung cancer. After his release he spent the rest of his earthly life with his best friend''s family. His friend''s wife truly gave him much comfort by taking care of him in his time of severe illness. A very kind and sacrificial family. That brother was alienated from his own family. I suspect the wife might be so depressed because of his arrest and forced herself to forget him. She could not even willing to come for his burial. I left this issue to Psychologists or Psychiatrists. However in the historical narrative of the Bible this tragedy can only be compared to a time when a mother was eating her own baby. And this story in some way portrays our misery as a nation.

I met one of my cousins, who came from Asmara, after so many years. And I asked him, "How our uncle is doing?"

He replied, "He is well but had been in a deep trial for awhile."

I asked, "What happened?"

He replied, "His daughter had been in prison for five years. They released her recently."

I asked, "Why was she in prison?"

He replied, "She is a Pentecostal and refuse to denounce her faith. They took her from Mai Nefhi College Eritrea."

He said, "At the time of her arrest her father got a chance to see and convince her so that she can change her mind. He is a very intelligent academician, but he could not understand his daughter''s stubbornness. He gently tried to convince her through critical reasoning. He explained how the situation can be hurting both for her and the family. And he pleaded with her, ''My daughter do not be too stubborn. There is no harm to denounce your faith with your mouth as long as you keep it in your heart. Just do what they are demanding!'' And her reply was, ''I can not denounce my faith in the LORD Jesus Christ!'' And the father could not control his temper and raised his hand to beat his little girl. And immediately the daughter said, ''Papa! Are you not the one who thought me to be a woman of principle?'' And those words sent a chill down to his spine and made him speechless. He said, that day he got his lesson and left."

My cousin is out of prison cell for now but with an uncertain future.

An elderly spiritual father was arrested by the dictatorial regime in Eritrea in 2009 and spent for about a year or more in Meiter prison, which was constructed in 2009 to hold religious and other prisoners, at times up to 2,000 to 3,000 members of the Pentecostal Church have been in this prison without any due process, and 10 of whom are Pentecostal leaders and Pastors. Brother Gebrselassie was an elder and a leader in Full Gospel Church in Eritrea. This church is one of the churches which has been banned by the totalitarian Eritrean regime since 2002.

Meiter is an extremely isolated desert place located 182 kilometers/ 113 miles northeast of Asmara, near the costal city of Massawa. Anyone who tried to escape from this place need not to be chased by the prison guards but he would be found dead of thirst and extreme heat. Usually the temperature is above 45 celsius/ 113 fahrenheit with a very high humidity of 70%. This place could not be endured by the young lest not to mention the old.

The elderly father developed diabetes in this harsh place. And on his temporary release they put him behind a truck and on their way to Asmara he fell from the vehicle. There is no doubt whatsoever that all this had created a complication in his subsequent deterioration of health which led to his death.They deliberately made him to suffer to the point of death. This is all to break him so that he may deny his faith in Christ and surrender his values and succumb to the will and way of the tyrannical regime.

Similarly another elder brother whom they took to this prison could not last long in this place and died. And at that time the members of the deceased family were ordered to took the body without been given any explanation of the arrest and death. This is what is happening in current Eritrea.

Reading the Bible, praying in public, preaching the word of God and fellowshipping, which others take for granted, are banned in Eritrea''s military. And Pentecostal Christians are hunted both in the military and civilian. A brother who was in the national military service was arrested due to his involvement in these spiritual activities. They put him in a dark underground dungeon for long period of time. Lack of proper light severely hurt both his eyes. When it worsened, the prison warden wrote a letter and sent him to a hospital. In the hospital the Doctor asked him, Who had accompanied you? He told him, he came alone and gave him the sealed letter. The Doctor could not believe his eyes on what was written in the letter. He asked the brother whether he knew what was written in the letter. The brother replied as it was a confidential letter he did not read it. Then the Doctor gave him to read it. And the letter said, "The prisoner who is coming to you is a ''Pente'' do not treat him." The word "Pente" is a derogatory word used in Eritrea for Pentecostal Christians. The good Doctor kindly advised the brother to keep his faith for himself in order to be safe from this act of cruelty. However the brother told him even if death itself comes he would not deny the Lord Jesus in public. After examination the Doctor was shocked to found out that how intense the damage was in the brother''s eyes. There are many untold stories in Eritrea.

Brothers and sisters, let us repeat the following statement as an individual, family, church or other groups till we believe it, "Enough is enough and silent no more!" Else we will be annihilated and become a history as a nation and people. May the good LORD remember those who are suffering in prison cells and in the land of the oppressed, which is Eritrea at large. May he forgive our sins and heal our land. Amen

- BM

It will continue ...

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