Modelling themselves on both the CCP and former Soviet Union’s systematic attempts to control religious belief, the Eritrean regime has removed the legitimate Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church and replaced him with a regime loyalist.
The legitimate leader of the Eritrean church is Patriarch Abune Antonios. Consecrated in 2004 as Patriarch by H. H. Shenouda III. Pope of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church along with the Holy Synod of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Patriarch Abune is still alive. His removal is illegal.
For over 15 years the Eritrean regime has held Patriarch Abune Antonios under house arrest. This illegal detention has never led to any charges or trial.
His high level case was one of several examples of religious persecution raised during hearings organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea, which I chaired.
The regime has falsely claimed that the substitution of Abune Qerlos was “in accordance with the norms and regulations of the Holy Synod and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewadho Church”.
Under the Statutes of the Orthodox Church it is illegal for another member of the clergy to be involved in deposing and substituting themselves in place of the legitimate Patriarch.
In attempting to create a compliant and tame Potemkin church the Eritrean regime is seeking to further silence anyone who bravely exposes the appalling abuses of human rights which are its hallmark.