Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cuban Communist Party official admits persecution of Protestant group

Back in 2010, Christian Solidarity Worldwide released an extensive report on religious freedom in Cuba. This past Friday they released a smoking gun that demonstrates that religious liberty in Cuba is under assault on the island. Below is the video with English translation and the press release:

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has released a video in which a Cuban Communist Party official openly confirms a government strategy to target churches affiliated with the fast growing Apostolic Movement, a protestant network.

The short film, recorded clandestinely early in 2010 and smuggled out of the country, shows Caridad Diego Bello, the head of the Religious Affairs Office of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, explaining the government’s strategy to crackdown on the Apostolic Movement.

For years, church leaders of all denominations have complained of difficulties with Diego, particularly in receiving permission to repair old church buildings or build new facilities. This is the first time, however, that video evidence has been published, showing Diego publicly admitting that the government is working to eradicate the Apostolic Movement.

In the video, Diego states “…we are taking measures and will continue to take measures, the hands of our authorities will not waver, and I don’t do this in a manner of warning but rather to inform, so that the illegalities that groups like these are committing can be countered in every province and in every territory... there are some would-be leaders of these type of organizations that have had been relocated from their homes, that have lost their temple. There are people that visit us that will no longer be able to enter the country again, there are people that have been fined for facilitating the violation of immigration status by foreigners in Cuba, we have confiscated literature because it has not entered the country via the appropriate channels, but rather under the table.”

Churches affiliated with the Apostolic Movement have documented consistent religious liberty violations over the past few years, including numerous cases of arbitrary detention of church leaders and the destruction of church buildings. CSW has also released a second video showing the site of the demolition of one of the largest churches linked to the Apostolic Movement in Santiago de Cuba.

CSW’s Director of Advocacy, Andrew Johnston said, “Religious leaders of all denominations told CSW earlier this year that the Apostolic Movement has been singled out for intense persecution. This video is confirmation, from the very mouth of the top official in charge of religious affairs in the country that the government is working to stamp out the group. Just a few months ago, leaders of the Apostolic Movement publicly asked that the government enact legislation on religious activity. We join with them in calling on the government to cease immediately its harassment of these churches and to establish a clear legal framework for all religious groups to operate in the country.”

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 kiri@csw.org.uk or visit http://www.csw.org.uk.

CSW is the UK’s leading human rights advocacy organization specializing in religious freedom, working on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promoting religious liberty for all.

Taken from: Cuban Communist Party official admits persecution of Protestant group 14/01/2011