Fear of music in Eritrea

No surer sign of creeping (or galloping) totalitarianism. From AP, Nov. 5:

ASMARA, Eritrea — Gospel singer Helen Berhane, who belonged to a banned evangelical church in Eritrea, has been released after more than two years in detention, a human rights group said.

Berhane was released in late October, according to a statement issued Friday by Amnesty International. Berhane had just put out a new album when she was arrested in the capital, Asmara, in May 2004, the group said.

“She spent most of her detention in inhuman and degrading conditions inside a metal shipping container, which was used as a prison cell. The authorities reportedly tortured her many times to make her recant her faith,” the statement said.

Calls to the Eritrean Information Ministry went unanswered Sunday.

Berhane’s Rema Church is not one of the official, recognized religions in Eritrea, which include Islam, Catholicism and Lutheran Christianity.

In September, the U.S. State Department listed Eritrea among eight countries cited for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The others were Iran, Burma, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam.

Eritrea, a desert country along Africa’s Red Sea Coast, broke away from Ethiopia in a 1961-91 civil war and fought a 1998-2000 border war with its rival. The conflict between the two countries is still simmering.

See our last posts on Eritrea and Helen Berhane.

  1. Eritrea’s fear of music is
    Thank you. Eritrea’s fear is not limited to Gospel Music. The government of Issais Afwworki has also banned Amharic music from being played in bars and public places. Eritrea’s Afeworki has a fobia for anything that is a bit different from what is prescribed by the him. He is even afraid of buildings that his focred labor of conscripts did not build. Few months ago the president ordered the demolution of one of the best buildings in Africa that was owned by the Melotti Family. The building was located on the Red Sea and its saed that the swimming pool was an extension of the sea. When the president wanted to take the building and the owners could not agree on a compensation package, he ordered its demolution and administered it in person. The University of Asmara building is being abandoned and not maintained because the president ordered that its faculties be dismantled and moved to bush colleges in the country side and be housed by buildings that are ected by forced labor. However, the hazards that government of Isaais Afeworki is afraid of are free ideas and artistic expressons that it did not control. The sad thing about the whole situation is that Eritreans are people who really love good music be it Gospel, Ethiopian or Sudanes.

    1. Eritrea
      Tone down the rhetoric lest you want to sound paranoid or even downright loony. By your logic there are no buildings standing in Eritrea; nor any music being played. Unfortunately, the most prevalent activity in Eritrea is dancing, music and the mushrooming of nightclubs everywhere and the multitude of singes of all sort. I can only wish libraries were going up at that rate.

      Issais Afworki, is a hero!

      1. Hell to the Hero
        The comment as being paranoid and loony should be addressed to the regime in Asmara. You maybe one of the few that is getting a temporary advantage from this regime.How dare you talk about Freedom in Eritrea and music and dancing everywhere. What you fail to recognize is that million are under the bondage of this blind goverment. Wake up and smell the coffee! Oh well there is nothing to smell or share in today’s Eritrea.

    2. Listen there buddy, you need
      Listen there buddy, you need to take a breather before you pass out. You are one of those creeping in coffe shops nothing but hope of doom and gloom for our precious Eritrea. You obviously haven’t visited recently. Eritrea is on the road tof reconstruction. Its to be admired such a naton is rebuilding itself from nothing espercially having defended itself from a devastating war 7 years after itas conception. Its taking giant leaps in rehabbilitation and self awareness. We dont need gospel ‘crap’ to drown us in the quagmire of the new reliogion syndrome. Go see it for yourself. If reportere are acquiring money to run their business and cant show where the money came from. Tha is against our national law. Thas is infringement on national security.

    3. This is self destruction
      This is self destruction …controling what goes in the government is one thing but what goes inside a bar and afterhours is alcholic’s job so I don’t blame PIA it is his second home. More to come if it is raealy self distruction like banners on the street, flags at the bar, and his highness picture…God is this deja vu?