The government of Eritrea has after 11 solid years released a Pastor who was imprisoned with over 60 other Christians for evangelical activities in the country.
Voice of the Martyrs – Australia confirmed that Pastor Oqbamichel Haiminot, the senior pastor of Kale Hiwot (Word of Life) Church in Asmara, was finally released from prison this week at the 5th Police Station.
Mr Haiminot, a married father of three, was arrested in 2005 with over 60 evangelical Christians while participating in a wedding ceremony and were taken to the Sawa military center for “military punishment.”
The global persecution advocacy organization reports that while the police gradually released several of the Christians, Haiminot and about five others were kept in detention as military officials tried to get them to recant their faith in Christ.
After refusing the request to deny Jesus, Haiminot was placed in solitary confinement, according to the Christian Post. He was also subject to cruel punishments and inhumane conditions that include being forced to carry rocks up a mountain, the news outlet reported.
Although he was later released after he suffered a mental breakdown, Pastor Haiminot was re-arrested in 2007 and would stay locked up for over the next decade.
While it is unclear why Pastor Haiminot was finally released after years of advocacy from international rights groups, Voice of the Martyrs reports that Haiminot was in need of medical attention following his release.
“Many pastors [in Eritrea] have been arrested. Many Christians have been arrested,” Todd Nettleton, chief of media relations for Voice of the Martyrs USA, said in a statement. “Typically, however, they’re not held as long as Pastor Oqbamichel was… We don’t know exactly why he was released at this time. Why not a year ago? Why not a year from now? We don’t know what the logic behind that is — or if there is any logic behind it.”
Haiminot gained international attention in 2003 after he became the first church leader in Eritrea to be imprisoned for religious activities.
His release comes as Eritrea ranks as the sixth worst nation in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s 2018 World Watch List.
By UG Christian News Correspondent.