Rev Gebremedhin Gebregiorsis is an Eritrean Orthodox priest and expert theologian who was arrested in November 2004 because of his involvement in the Medhane Alem Bible study group, a renewal movement within the Eritrean Orthodox Church. He has remained in prison, incommunicado, ever since.
LATEST NEWS (JUNE 2022): On 6 June 2022, Release Eritrea announced that Rev Gebremedhin’s wife Tsgeweyni Mekonnen Haile had died.
Rev Gebremedhin trained in the theological school of Egypt. He served as head of the Sunday Schools department in the Eritrean Orthodox Patriarchate, and for the two years before his detention he headed a nationally-acclaimed programme working with HIV patients and an award-winning educational campaign for the prevention of AIDS in Eritrea. The government had publicly acknowledged his achievements in this area.
Rev Gebremedhin was one of the organisers of the Medhane Alem (“Saviour of the World”) movement, along with Rev Dr Futsum Gebrenegus and Rev Dr Tekleab Menghisteab. Security forces arrested the three Christians on 19 November 2004 and following their arrest the government closed down the Medhane Alem church in which they had grown up and served all their lives, and the congregation was forced to disperse.
Dr Tekleab, Dr Gebrenegus and Rev Gebremedhin are imprisoned in the notorious maximum-security Wengel Mermera Central Criminal Investigation interrogation centre, part of Asmara’s 2nd Police Station, together with several other Christian leaders including Dr Kiflu Gebremeskel, Pastor Kidane Weldou, Mussie Ezaz and Pastor Meron Gebreselasie. It is believed that many of Eritrea’s prominent political and military prisoners are also incarcerated in this dungeon-like inner labyrinth of cells.
The Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, protested about their arrest and accused the government of interfering in church affairs. In 2006 he was deposed, put under house arrest and replaced as patriarch by a government appointee.
Rev Gebremedhin is a widower with three children. His wife Tsgeweyni Mekonnen Haile died of cancer in June 2022. After she died, their son Alazar wrote a Facebook tribute in which he said, “You have shown us in practice the preciousness of taking care of your family, hospitality to guests and helping the weak. The whole family testifies how you were truly the help of many.”
(Human Rights Without Frontiers, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, In Chains for Christ, Release Eritrea)