Mussie Ezaz was an evangelist and youth leader in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, before his arrest in January 2008. He has remained in prison since then.
Before his arrest, Mussie was an evangelist for more than 14 years. He worked with Youth for Christ before becoming a leader in the Kale Hiwot Church of Eritrea, where he developed a youth ministry.
Mussie is married with three children. He was first detained in September 2007 at his home in Asmara and taken to a small village prison staffed by young soldiers. He escaped and got back to Asmara, where he sought the help of friends to flee Eritrea.
Mussie phoned his wife and family to say goodbye, left Asmara and headed south towards the Ethiopian border. After travelling about 100 km he reached the town of Adi Kaih and phoned his wife and family to let them know he was safe. However, the authorities caught up with Mussie and detained him again, in January 2008, after a brief struggle. Other Christians were also detained for helping him, including Pastor Oqbamichel Haimanot, whose phone he rang while on the run.
For a long time after Mussie’s arrest, his family had no information about his location or health. Eritrean Christians feared he might have been killed. Eventually, reports emerged that he was being held in the notorious maximum-security Wengel Mermera Central Criminal Investigation interrogation centre, part of Asmara’s 2nd Police Station. It is believed that many of Eritrea’s prominent political and military prisoners are incarcerated in this dungeon-like inner labyrinth of cells, as well as Christian leaders including Dr Kiflu Gebremeskel, Rev Haile Naizghe, Pastor Kidane Weldou and Pastor Meron Gebreselasie. They, like Mussie, have never been tried, and have been held incommunicado since their arrests.
(Release Eritrea, Release International, Voice of the Martyrs Canada)