The Government of Erirea's Religous Delegation to Europe Fails Print
Thursday, 04 December 2008 00:00
A delegation led by Mr. Yoftahe Dimtros, the political appointee who has been placed by the Eritrean government as the “General Administrator” of the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC), began its tour of the Diaspora population in Europe. Mr. Dimetros has won notoriety for orchestrating the arrest and detention of the Patriarch of the EOC and several leading clergies.

The ostensible reason for the tour seems to be an attempt at gaining support for the unpopular Eritrean government and legitimacy for the leadership of the EOC that is increasingly seen by the populace as being a subservient tool of the government of Mr. Isaias Afeworki.  

The delegation includes Abba Dioscoros, the “patriarch” hand-picked by the government to replace H.H. Abune Antonios following the latter’s dethronement and subsequent detention since January 2006. Also included in the delegation are Abba Matewos (bishop of Dbarwa), Abba Yohannes (bishop of Keren) and Habtom Rusom, Mr. Yoftahe’s secretary.  

The delegation was denied an audience by the Roman Catholic Church. Our reports tell us that Mr. Yoftahe’s group was told in no unmistakable language that it would not be accorded any reception as the hierarchy has had no prior communications with Patrairch Antionios concerning the visit. This appears to have been a deliberate rebuff; and just one more example of the EOC’s string of failures at similar attempts in gaining legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.

What is even more telling was the fact that on December 7, 2008 the delegation was denied entry to Kidist Mariam Eritrean Orthodox Church, presumably an important target of the group.  Church officials in Milan denounced the delegation as not representing the EOC and informed local police officials to take the necessary steps to make sure that they did not set foot in the church. Mr. Yoftahe and his delegation were forced to spend that Sunday morning in another hall with a few political supporters of the ruling party in Eritrea.

There is very little doubt that all the movements of the delegation is being handled and stage-managed by the Office of the Eritrean Consul General in the country. The foreign ministry’s website quotes Abba Dioscoros with incendiary remarks that seem to defend the Eritrean government’s hostility to religion.

The delegation is reported to have moved to Sweden as of Saturday, December 14, 2008 to try to speak to the large Diaspora community there.

The government of Eritrea has been designated by the US government as one of eight Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) since 2004 for its notorious record of religious persecutions. Today more than 3225 Christians are languishing in its prisons without being charged with any crime. The government of Mr. Isaias Afeworki has also refused to implement the country’s constitution since its ratification in 1997.