Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

CSW’s new report on violations of the right to Freedom of Religion or Belief in Cuba reveals that despite developments in Cuba’s relationships with the United States and European Union, “talk of progress has not yet translated into tangible improvements for religion or belief  communities.”

In 2016, four large churches linked to the Apostolic Movement, a Protestant church network, were  destroyed by the  government in central and eastern Cuba. Government officials later threatened to confiscate land from two landowners if they continued to allow the congregations of two of the demolished churches to hold Sunday services on their properties

In 2016, CSW recorded 2,380 separate violations of freedom of religion or belief  in Cuba. At least 2,009 of these violations involved entire church congregations, and around 260 involved groups of women or activists arrested to prevent them from attending Mass.

The brutal and public strategies used by the Cuban government to target religious groups include public and arbitrary arrests, beatings and interrogations in contexts such as going through airport security.

Every Sunday in 2016 government agents systematically and often violently detained dozens of women affiliated with the Ladies in White movement, a non-violent human rights movement, preventing them from attending Mass.  

Despite the harassment, churches have continued  to  find  ways of meeting  together, even  after land  and church belongings have been confiscated. They have also continued to publicly denounce violations, despite the dangers this can involve.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW is very concerned that despite developments in Cuba’s relationships with the US and the EU, the promised freedoms have not materialised for Cuba’s religious communities. We continue to call on the EU and the US government to ensure that human rights remain a priority in any dialogues with the Cuban government.’’ 

 


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