The Holy Synod of the Œcumenical Canonical Orthodox Church Worldwide has continually petitioned for the release and humane treatment of Patriarch Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church.
In response to complaints from various international human rights groups, the United Nations has attempted to mediate through the recent appointment of a Special Rapporteur.
Reports suggest that the government of Eritrea has rejected the appointment of Mauritian national Beedwantee Keetharuth as Special Rapporteur to Eritrea to investigate allegations of human rights violations.
The ŒCOCW contends that Patriarch Antonios is being denied his right to humane treatment, including medical attention for his diabetes, while imprisoned in the country. Therefore, the ŒCOCW along with other international organizations such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Amnesty International, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, continue to advocate for the human rights of Eritrean citizens both within the country and in the Eritrean diaspora.
I formally appeal to the International Court of Justice to intervene on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Antonios, who is in failing health, and other Orthodox clergy, who are being forced into military service in violation of their religious conscientious status and violation of their religious freedom.
The most specific and high profile example of suppression of religious freedom is the uncanonical appointment of a government-imposed claimant to the Episcopal throne of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which violates numerous decrees of various ecumenical church councils invalidating any such governmental intrusion into church affairs.
Canon 30 of the Holy First Ecumenical Council unequivocally rejects such intrusion into church affairs, such as the forceful removal of Patriarch Antonios by the Eritrean government, when it states: “If any bishop comes into possession of a church by employing secular rulers, let him be deposed from office, and let him be excommunicated. And all those who communicate with him too.” This ancient church ruling clearly establishes the unlawfulness of the intrusion of the Eritrean government into church affairs. These action are also in violation of the religious freedom of all members of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
The Holy Synod of the ŒCOCW calls for all religious authorities and organizations to join in protesting the treatment of Patriarch Antonios by the Eritrean government, and protesting the denial of religious freedom and human rights of all Eritrean citizens including Eritreans living in forced exile.