Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel, a leading figure of Full Gospel Church of Eritrea, founder and senior pastor of Southwest Full Gospel Church and member of the executive committee to the Full Gospel Church of Eritrea, was arrested on May 23, 2004. He was taken from his home in Asmara Gejeret, at approximately 5 a.m. Dr. Gebremeskel was a mathematics lecturer, department and faculty head at the University of Asmara until 1999, when he became a full-time pastor at the Southwest Full Gospel Church. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Chicago University. His wife and four children have not been able to visit him. About 2,000 Eritrean Christians are believed to be under arrest because of their religious beliefs, held in police stations, military camps and prisons in 12 known locations across Eritrea. Dr. Gebremeskel is one of the 28 clergymen being held.
Jailed Protestants are routinely subjected to physical beatings and severe psychological pressure to deny their religious beliefs. Police and military authorities continue to demand the prisoners return to one of the three “official” Christian denominations recognized by the government. But even the legally recognized denominations–the nation’s historic Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches–have come under government disfavor, incurring threats and even jailing by security police officials.