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Eritrean patriarch dies after 16 years of house arrest

by Sophie Drew

Father Antonios - the third patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Tawehedo Church - has died whilst under house arrest. 

The patriarch had been held captive for 16 years prior to his death on Wednesday, February 9. 

He spent much of his life standing up for the rights of Christian people; a stance that led to him being illegally and forcefully detained in 2006.

The situation in Eritrea continues to escalate, with many Christians and non-believers suffering.

Dr Khataza Gondwe, from Christian Solidarity Worldwide has reflected on what his life and legacy will be in the wake of his death.

She told Premier: "He will be remembered as somebody who stood for righteousness; somebody who stood for the truth and the doctrine of Christ, and of the traditions of the Church, he would not compromise." 

In the years since he was detained, the United States regarded Abune Antonios as a prisoner of conscience.

In an unprecedented move, 2019 saw bishops of the Holy Synod excommunicate Father Antonios for heresy, declaring that "his name should never be remembered." 

The move was condemned by the president of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches. 

Dr Gondwe continued: "He was put in terrible conditions, he w"as held in the servant's quarters in a villa where some of the Bishops lived, every attempt was made to humiliate him."

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