Cuba: 2013 a bad year for religious freedom
The year 2013 joins the previous 53 years in Cuba as a bad year for religious freedom under the yoke of the Castro tyranny.
2013 a bad year for religious freedom in Cuba
The advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has renewed its call upon the leadership of Cuba to improve religious freedom in the country.
CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement that, "We are deeply concerned by the continued deterioration in religious freedom over the past year in Cuba. Each Sunday the government continues to violate the most basic of rights: the right to freely participate in religious services and form part of a religious community without interference."
CSW documented 185 reported cases of religious freedom violation in 2013, up from a total of 120 in 2012. Most of the victims of these incidents were Catholics, but many Baptists, Pentecostals, and Methodists were also targeted.
Mostly the issues revolve around the arbitrary arrest of parishioners seeking to go to regular church services, but there were also many reports of harassment, intimidation and pressure from state security services on religious institutions.
According to CSW, these pressures originate from the Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party. Their aim, CSW contends, is to force religious groups to change internal governing structures, statutes and constitutions, making them less democratic and therefore easier for the central government to control.
Churches that either do not submit to this rule or those that the government takes an objection to for other reasons often face legal sanctions or closure.
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