Government voices concern over detention of religious leaders in Cuba

(Photo: Unsplash/Dustan Woodhouse)

The government says it has raised concerns with Cuba about the detention of religious leaders following major nationwide demonstrations.

Those detained include several pastors. Yéremi Blanco Ramírez and Yarian Sierra Madrigal were held for nearly two weeks before being released over the weekend. Another pastor, Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, is still being held. 

Commonwealth minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon was asked in a parliamentary question by Lord Alton of Liverpool what assessment the government has made of the demonstrations in Cuba, and reports of the forcible detention of religious leaders there. 

In response, Lord Ahmad said the government was monitoring the situation closely.

"We are clear that all Cubans should have the right to protest peacefully," he said. 

"The UK government has called for calm and restraint, and the full respect of all Cubans' human rights.

"Detention should not be used as a tool to restrict freedom of expression, assembly, and religion.

"We have raised our concerns directly with the Cuban government, and called for the authorities to release information on detained citizens, including their whereabouts.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely." 

Maridilegnis Carballo, the wife of Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, has expressed concerns for her husband's welfare. He has been held incommunicado at a military facility in Santiago de Cuba for over two weeks. 

She told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), "I went to the place where they say they have my husband detained. No one would let me see him, they haven't even allowed us a phone call.

"God help me, our daughter cries a lot. I have run out of strength; how hard it is to pass through the valley of death. But I will not fear anything, I know that [God] is with us."

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, he is facing charges of 'disrespect', 'public disorder' and 'attacks'. 

CSW is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo and "all others who have been detained in connection with the peaceful exercise of their basic human rights."