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.