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AfricaUrgent Appeal: Religious Persecution of Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia

Urgent Appeal: Religious Persecution of Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia

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On April 30, 2024, a global coalition from the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable, comprising 70 concerned organizations and advocates, hand-delivered a multi-faith letter regarding the escalating persecution of Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia to Senator Cory Booker, Senator Tim Scott, Representative John James and Representative Sara Jacobs.

This letter urges the U.S. Congress to take action by collaborating with the IRF Roundtables Africa Working Group to draft a House Resolution calling for an inquiry into the atrocities and demanding accountability through proceedings and sanctions. The letter stresses the importance of holding a hearing on human rights violations in Ethiopia.

They express concern over targeted attacks and violence against this community underscoring the need for intervention to protect their religious freedom, peace and protection in the country. The letter sheds light on disturbing incidents targeting those belonging to Orthodox beliefs, including attacks on churches, clergy members and worshippers that have resulted in casualties and desecration of sacred sites. “Christian religious leaders face mistreatment and violence while their families endure horrors. Churches are being set on fire treasures destroyed and cultural heritage vandalized” reads a segment from the letter.

The October 2019 and Burayu Massacre are cited as examples of the hardships endured by Orthodox Christians. Perpetrators reportedly select victims based on religious symbols such as the Christian cross. The letter also highlights the discrimination and exclusion experienced by Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia; producing restrictions on their practices and denial of rights.

Recent government actions, such as interference in church affairs have led to heightened tensions resulting in violence, arrests and job losses for dissenters against opposing bishops. The letter highlighted that government constraints on Orthodox celebrations and efforts to seize control of places of worship are undermining unity. The government’s conduct is viewed as a threat to peace by exacerbating division rather than promoting mutual respect for human dignity. In response various groups have appealed to the U.S. Congress for backing the rights of Orthodox believers in Ethiopia.

The letter concludes by emphasizing the urgency of addressing this matter; “We look forward eagerly to working with you as you take action to rectify these wrongs and move towards a future where all Ethiopians can live together harmoniously.” As next steps, the coalition leaders will be scheduling follow-up meetings with the recipient congressional offices.

Read the full letter

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