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Pastor blocked from burial due to Evangelical beliefs finally laid to rest

by Sophie Drew
Pastor Tesfay.jpg - Banner image

A pastor in Eritrea that was denied a burial due to his Christian beliefs has been laid to rest.

Pastor Tesfay Seyoum, founder and leader of Meserete Kristos Church, passed away on the 9th of April.

The pastor had been detained in Mai Serwa prison near the capital, Asmara, for ten years because of his faith.

After suffering a brain haemorrhage, he was sent to the hospital for treatment but died two months later, leaving behind his wife and daughter.

Eritreans are traditionally buried in their home areas, and the ceremony is performed as close to the death as possible.

Pastor Seyoum's body was taken to his house in the Godaif neighbourhood, his home area in the south of Asmara, in preparation for burial.

However, permission for a site was denied by officials and members of the local community due to his Evangelical beliefs.

As a result, he was not buried for thirteen days – significantly longer than is considered appropriate – resulting in immense distress for his loved ones.

On the 22nd of April, Pastor Seyoum was finally laid to rest at St. Teklehaymanot Cemetery in the HazHaz suburb, north of Asmara.

Dr Khataza Gondwe, Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Head of Advocacy and Africa Team Leader, said: "We extend our condolences and urge the Eritrean authorities to ensure that no further cruelties are inflicted on the family.

“We also continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, including those detained on account of their religion or belief, and for the international community to hold the Eritrean government accountable for historic and continuing violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief."

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