A delegation of Cuban church leaders has called on the US government to add Cuba to its Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. The delegation, hosted by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), last week briefed members of Congress and US government officials in Washington DC on the sharp rise in religious freedom violations in Cuba.
Former prisoner of conscience and denominational leader Reverend Carlos Lamelas, and his wife Uramis, were among the church leaders who briefed the Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus and Commissioners from the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCRIF).
CSW said that the group shared personal experiences of state-sponsored human rights violations and also gave an overview of how the Cuban government attempts to control and manipulate religious groups.
In a written declaration, Reverend Lamelas said, “My case is far from being an isolated case and it is even less so the worst of the repression suffered by Christian ministries in Cuba. The difference perhaps was that I was blessed to have had my case made public in the international media. For this reason, it is my responsibility to speak out about the repressive and unscrupulous manipulations of this decaying regime.
“In this declaration, I urge whoever can do so, to judge the Castro government as violators of the most basic human rights. They extend their arms, like an octopus, to repress not only Cuban civil society but also all believers, including church hierarchies, which on occasion work in complicity with them.”
Since January 1, 2012 CSW has recorded over 40 separate incidents of religious freedom violations in Cuba compared with 28 in all of 2011. Religious freedom violations range from preventing people from attending church services to the seizure of church land, and official harassment, beatings and imprisonment of church leaders. Some cases involve large groups of people.
CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “While religious freedom has always been limited in Cuba, the spike in religious freedom violations this year is deeply troubling. The figures are not exhaustive but show a clear trend, confirmed by the members of this week’s delegation, which is at odds with the claim of Raul Castro that his government respects religious freedom. We echo Reverend Lamelas’ call to the international community to recognise the Cuban government’s systematic and escalating violations of corporate and individual religious freedom and urge the US to place Cuba on its CPC list.”
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.
For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.csw.org.uk.
|Dan Wooding, 71, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 48 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California and which is also carried throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK and also in Belize and South Africa. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 192 countries and also provides a regular commentary for Worship Life Radio on KWVE. You can follow Dan Wooding on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. Dan has recently received two top media awards — the “Passion for the Persecuted” award from Open Doors US, and one of the top “Newsmakers of 2011” from Plain Truth magazine. He is the author of some 44 books, the latest of which is “Caped Crusader: Rick Wakeman in the 1970s.” To order a copy, go to: http://www.amazon.com/CAPED-CRUSADER-Rick-Wakeman-1970s/dp/1908728302/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335474883&sr=1-1 . Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel “Red Dagger” which is available this link.|