One of Jehovah’s Witnesses dies while imprisoned in Eritrea
For Immediate Release
October 5, 2011
ASMARA, Eritrea—Misghina Gebretinsae, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned in Eritrea without any specific charges, died under mysterious circumstances during his detainment by Eritrean authorities. He was 62 years old.
Details of the exact cause of death are sketchy. Reportedly, Mr. Gebretinsae was put in solitary confinement in a sheet metal container for a week some time prior to his death. Local Witnesses were told that Mr. Gebretinsae “fell sick” in the Meitir prison camp where he was detained and was pronounced “dead on arrival” at the Gindae Hospital near Massawa. Later Mr. Gebretinsae’s body was brought to Halibet Hospital in Asmara and local Witnesses were contacted with the news of Misghina’s death. He is survived by a son and three daughters.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eritrea were only recently informed of the death of Mr. Gebretinsae, who was known as a faithful Christian and family man. His family and fellow worshippers are grieving his loss. Mr. Gebretinsae was widely respected as trustworthy and dependable. Many local Witnesses viewed him as a good asset to the congregation and to his community.
Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world are deeply troubled that their law-abiding fellow worshippers in Eritrea are being arrested and imprisoned without being charged with a crime or being given a trial. Mr. Gebretinsae was one of many Witnesses, including women and children, who experienced such especially harsh treatment by Eritrean authorities during a wave of systematic arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses from July 2008 through June 2009. The government has banned all minority religious groups in the country since 2002, but Witnesses in Eritrea appear to be a special target. Three conscientious objectors among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eritrea have been imprisoned for nearly 17 years, and two children, 3 and 4 years old, are imprisoned with their mothers. Imprisoned Witnesses have also been denied visitors, including their family members. As of April 5, 2011, there were 51 imprisoned Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eritrea, including Mr. Gebretinsae.
The death of Misghina Gebretinsae marks the first time one of Jehovah’s Witnesses has died while in the custody of Eritrean authorities.
J.R. Brown, tel. +1 718 560 5600
Belgium: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, tel. +32 2 782 0015
Source: JW Media