2006 – Gospel singer Helen Berhane is released after spending two years in a metal shipping container. Berhane was arrested and put into detention in Eritrea for belonging to the banned Rema Church.
Helen Berhane (born c. 1975) is a Christian Gospel singer who was a prisoner in Eritrea.
Berhane is a member of the Rema church, one of several minority Evangelical Christian churches not officially recognized by the state of Eritrea and heavily persecuted. She was arrested on 13 May 2004, shortly after she released an album of Christian music, after refusing to sign a document pledging to end all participation in Evangelical activities, effectively forcing her to abandon her prohibited evangelical faith and music. She was detained at Mai Serwa military camp, north of the capital Asmara. Berhane reported that she spent most of her day locked inside a metal shipping container, in unsanitary and inhumane conditions; she had no possibility of contact with her family and was denied legal representation or medical care.
On Eritrean Independence Day, 24 May 2006, Amnesty International renewed their appeal to Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki to ensure the improvement of human rights standards in the country. Five of the six female prisoners Amnesty International appealed for the release of last year on this date, including Berhane, were still held at the time. They had not been charged with anything nor brought to any court.
Berhane’s 2003 album, T’ Kebaeku (I Am Anointed), was re-released in Europe in June 2006.
On 2 November 2006 it was reported that Berhane was released from prison in late October 2006.