March 24, 2017
Press Release from the International Unity of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith Followers Concerning the Abduction of the Waldba Monk Aba Gebre Eyesus by Armed EPRDF Government Agents
But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10: 26-28
In the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church were and are fathers who hold fast their Christian faith, who offer their lives to it, who live the Gospel and demonstrate it in their daily lives. With neither fear nor apathy, these fathers nobly stood in boldness and confronted godless rulers who oppressed people, who miscarried justice, who assailed the Church. In so doing they suffered in the flesh but received a crown of honor from the Lord. To have an understanding of this a glimpse at the documented acts and homilies of the martyrs and the saints will be enough of a testimony.
Even today, there are chosen fathers who are blameless in character who follow the footsteps of the saints and the martyrs of old, who bear the brunt of tribulation and lay down their lives for their faith, upholding the letters of the Gospel. Among these pristine fathers the Waldba Monastery monk Aba Gebre Eyesus, who is also the reason for this missive, is one.
In 2012, when the EPRDF government in Ethiopia violated the sanctity of the Waldba Monastery and desecrated the bones of saints from their graves by excavation, Aba Gebre Eyesus conveyed the petition of the monastic community to the EPRDF government and to the patriarchate in Addis Ababa. When the monastic community’s cries were ignored, Aba Gebre Eyesus, being diligent and earnest in manner, relayed the message to the larger populace through Voice of America radio. For voicing his compliant against the EPRDF government’s desecration of the ancient and historic Waldba Monastery, which the government did in the name of “development,” and for exposing the heinous act to the public, Aba Gebre Eyesus was banished from his long Waldba monastic habitation and was relentlessly chased from monastery to monastery for more than five years. After such merciless hunt, the EPRDF government apprehended him in one monastery in Gondar this last January. The fathers who witnessed his capture reported that he received serious physical affliction in the hands of his captors. After his capture, his whereabouts and the condition of his health remain unknown.
For this reason, to find out the whereabouts of this upright father and defender of the faith, we, the International Unity of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith Followers, have been following up the matter closely. Unfortunately, however, we have not been able to locate him and so, to place a more extensive effort, we are persuaded to make the matter known to the clergy and to the laity at large. We, therefore, call upon the fathers, the government bodies and all the Christian faithful to the following entreaties:
1) Since the principal weapon we Christians have to overcome adversity and to cross the span of tribulation is prayer, we implore that all of us think of this brave spiritual father in our prayers.
2) The monastic father Aba Gebre Eyesus went through such ordeal not for any material desire but to protect the monastery from damaging desecration. We, therefore, request every person to whom the Waldba Monastery is a concern to petition the matter to the holy synod, to the populace, to international bodies and religious organizations until Aba Gebre Eyesus is freed.
3) Aba Gebre Eyesus was abducted by armed government agents and therefore, we would like to make it clear that any physical injury or harm to his life will be the sole responsibility of the EPRDF government. We would also like to remind the EPRDF government that such harm can result in an irreconcilable antagonism between Christians and the monastic community on the one hand and the EPRDF government on the other.
4) Apart from using his natural right of speech to meet his spiritual duty, this father did not commit any crime or offense against anyone. We therefore firmly request the government to release Aba Gebre Eyesus and to let him return to his monastery.
5) By desecrating the sacred land of the Waldba Monastery, the EPRDF government cannot develop a valid project that is even a tiny bit beneficial. There is no headway to meaningful prosperity by demolishing Churches and monasteries, especially in Ethiopia. We, therefore, once again, request the EPRDF government to think again and to discontinue its defiling activity in the Waldba enclave.
6) As no other society knows the sanctity of the Waldba Monastery better, we beseech the Christians of Tigray, Gondar and Wollo to confront and urge the EPRDF government to stop playing with fire, and if the words fall on deaf ears then to pray for it.
7) At this time, when the truthful and those passionate about the Orthodox Tewahedo Christian faith are being locked, banished and scattered, the holy synod cannot abandon the matter and forsake the flock. We humbly request the holy synod to place emphasis on the suffering of Aba Gebre Eyesus and to follow up on his condition and to make it known to all the children of the Church.
With Spiritual Salutation,
International Unity of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Faith Followers