Severe persecution broke out in 2002, when the Eritrean Government banned all Christian denominations except Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Lutheranism, and ended all other religious practices apart from Sunni Islam. An estimated 2,000 Christians are currently imprisoned without charge or trial in detention centers where torture is routinely in use. Some detainees have been held incommunicado for a number of years. As punishment, some have spent time in unsanitary and poorly ventilated metal containers and underground cells. Other detainees have been subjected to brutal beatings and other forms of mistreatment which, in several cases, have resulted in death.
Members of government-sanctioned churches are not immune from persecution. Following government machinations and in a contravention of church law, the ordained orthodox Patriarch was deposed in January 2006 and placed under a stringent regime of house arrest. The government has now illegally appointed a more pliable Patriarch.
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