Twen Theodros

Released Sep 12, 2020

Held 6,025 days  Arrested March 2004 in Eritrea

Update June 5, 2019

In August 2017, Twen and the other women who were arrested with her in 2004 were moved to Mai Serwa prison camp, near Asmara. This is good news because it is much easier for their families and friends to visit. Prisoners can have visitors and family members bring food. It’s also a better location because the weather is not as hot as her previous prison location.

Update June 5, 2019

A VOM partner reports that Twen is in good health in prison.


Prisoner Details

Those who have read the story of Eritrean gospel singer Helen Berhane in her book, Song of the Nightingale, will be familiar with Helen’s fellow prisoner and close friend, “Esther”. Esther’s real name is Twen Theodros, and she was imprisoned in the same shipping container as Helen.

Twen is an amazing Christian woman who endured terrible beatings and torture at the hands of Eritrean prison guards. On occasions, Twen took the punishment in place of Helen and, when Helen was very ill as a result of the beatings and prison conditions, Twen cared for her. She fed Helen, washed her wounds, defended her and even carried her to the toilet when Helen was unable to walk.

Twen was arrested in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, in 2004 but was released after her father persuaded her to sign a paper saying she would not continue to meet with other Christians, share her faith or engage in Christian activities. In 2005, she was re-arrested after she was found participating in an evening prayer meeting in an underground church. Following her arrest, Twen was sent to Mai Sirwa Prison. In 2006, she was joined by a large group of detainees who were arrested at a Christian wedding celebration in Asmara.

Twen and the women in this group all refused to sign a paper stating they would no longer engage in Christian activities, which was tantamount to recanting their faith, so they were sent to Wi’a, to one of Eritrea’s harshest prisons. Wi’a, which is situated on the Red Sea coast, is one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Hundreds of prisoners have died in Wi’a prison as a result of the extreme heat and deplorable sanitary conditions. The prison was eventually closed by government order. Twen and her group were then sent to Me’etr prison, in the remote northwest of Eritrea. There is no town near Me’etr prison and no public transportation; the prison houses mainly Christian prisoners.

Twen has had opportunities to escape. On one occasion, she was given permission to stay with her family in Asmara for a month because of a health problem. After being cared for and receiving treatment, Twen made her way back to the prison on her own, rather than trying to arrange to be smuggled out of Eritrea to a neighboring country.

Twen was 23 years old when she was first arrested in 2004. At that time, Twen was a new believer. Today, Twen is considered a key senior women’s leader in the prison. She continues to look after and care for other women prisoners.

People who know and love Twen say she is a precious, lovely Christian who is determined to remain a faithful follower of Jesus. They also say she is willing to stay in prison as long as God enables her to serve him there by helping others.

Petition Officials

  • Isaias Afewerki

    President

    Mailing Address

    President Issayas Afewerki

    Office of the President

    PO Box 257

    Asmara, ERITREA

  • Gebrehiwet Solomon Berhane

    Charge d'Affaires

    Email Address

    Mailing Address

    Embassy of the State of Eritrea

    1708 New Hampshire Ave., NW

    Washington, DC 20009

    Other Contact Information

    Telephone: (202)319-1991

    Fax: (202)319-1304

  • Sophia Tesfamariam Yohann

    Her Excellency

    Mailing Address

    800 Second Avenue, 18th Floor

    New York, N.Y. 10017

    Other Contact Information

    Telephone: (212) 687-3390