Ethiopian Bishops: Martyrs Were Migrants Looking for Better Life

Ethiopia's Catholic bishops condemned "in unambiguous terms" the execution of 30 Ethiopian Christian migrants in Libya.

"These Ethiopian martyrs who were butchered on the coast and desert of Libya were not politicians, nor military soldiers, or they were not armed people, considered to be dangerous people for security, rather they were young innocent migrants hopeful for a better future on the other end of their destination; capable of transforming their lives, the lives of their family and even contribute for the betterment of the country of their destination," the bishops said in a statement issued during their April 18-23 general meeting.

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"We are saddened that these young people were killed, because they refused to change their faith in a world where every human being regardless of race, color, and religion should live in any country with their human rights respected.

"In fact, these terrorist acts do not represent any religion; it is known that these are cruel killers who murder even followers of their own religion. However, the blood of innocent people should never be shed in the name of the Lord in any country," the bishops said.

Islamic State militants released a video of the executions April 19. The following day, Pope Francis sent a message of condolence and prayers to Patriarch Mathias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Ethiopia's Catholic bishops said that most of the world's religions were spread through migrants.

"The Jews became a nation after their migration to Africa," they said. "Our Lord Jesus Christ came to Africa as a refugee and returned to his birth place after receiving African welcome. The first persecuted Christians scattered to surrounding countries for the sake of their faith and spread their faith in Jesus Christ. The first Muslims came to Ethiopia around 615 A.D. and preached Muslim religion in Ethiopia."

They noted that currently, Ethiopia is hosting tens of thousands of refugees "without discrimination."

"Why such atrocity and bloodshed up on the innocent children of Ethiopia? Ethiopian refugees in any country should be treated according to international refugees' agreements like any other nationals; it is a crime to take away their lives," the bishops said.

They also pleaded with human traffickers to quit tricking young people to leave the country. They told young people "not to travel without making sure that your country of destination provides you protection or fall in the traps of the human traffickers and travel without the necessary legal documents. Moreover, we ask the youth to consider the option of working and flourishing in your own country and drop the idea of migrating to another country where there is no safety."

The bishops said they prayed that the victims would rest in peace and that their family members would obtain consolation.

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