Cuban Pastor Imprisoned a Month Ago, Remains Held Without Charge

Thursday, March 12, 2015
From Christian Solidarity Worldwide:

Pastor Imprisoned, Held Without Charge

The family of Rev. Jesús Noel Carballeda, the 44 year-old Cuban pastor of an unregistered church in Havana, is calling for his release from Valle Grande prison in San Antonio de los Baños, Havana Province, where he has been imprisoned for approximately a month without charge.

Rev. Carballeda’s wife, Teresa Castillo Medina, told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) the pastor was imprisoned five years ago for four months after militant communist neighbors filed legal complaints about the church services they held in their home in Marianao, Havana. Following his imprisonment, he was put on probation and made to check in with the authorities on a regular basis. They were barred from holding church services in their home, but Rev. Carballeda continued to lead his church, holding services in parks, rented halls and other private homes. His wife believes this is the reason behind his re-arrest.

Rev. Carballeda's church is linked to the Apostolic Movement, a fast growing network of protestant churches, which the Cuban government has refused to register. Because the religious group is unregistered, all of the affiliated church's activities are technically illegal and they are unable to apply for permits for a designated place of worship. Castillo Medina told CSW, "We do not want to bother anyone. We just need a place to worship. We are forced to meet in the open air, in parks or rented rooms as [the authorities] will not give us legal recognition."

The detention of Rev. Carballeda is part of a larger crackdown on religious freedom in Cuba over the past few years. In 2014, CSW documented 220 separate cases of religious freedom violations, up from 185 in 2013 and 120 in 2012. Unregistered religious groups have been a particular target of government repression, with religious leaders reporting harassment, fines and threats of confiscation or destruction of property.