Cuba threatens evangelical pastor involved in ‘11J’ with eight years in prison
Pastor Rosales Fajardo is still in prison. In a letter to the UN, the Cuban government notes the eight-year sentence, that has yet to be communicated to his family.
CSW, Protestante Digital · HAVANA · 08 APRIL 2022 · 18:10 CET
While most of them were released as the weeks passed, Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo's case has taken a different turn.
Despite the absence of evidence of his guilt and the petitions made by international organisations calling for his release, including the European Parliament, Cuba has refused to release him, and has even announced that he has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
This was reported by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) quoting a document sent by the Permanent Mission of Cuba in Geneva to the United Nations (UN).
The document was written in response to a communication signed by five UN Special Procedures, demanding information about the detention of Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo.
It concludes pointing out that although the sentence was issued following his trial on 20-21 December 2021, the “parties” have not yet been officially informed.
The letter of the Cuban government stresses that Rosales Fajardo, pastor of the independent and non-denominational Monte de Sion (Zion Mountain) church in the Cuban city of Palma Soriano, does not belong to any “recognised church” and denies that there was any government persecution of the religious leader.
It states that his leaving of the registered denomination Biblia Abierta (Open Bible) in 2011 was an internal decision of the religious group and “had nothing to do with any persecution by the government”.
However, letters from the leaders of that denomination at the time contradict that, and say that conversations with the government due to the relationship they had with it, were some of the reasons why they asked Rosales Fajardo to leave.
Furthermore, the Cuban government underlines that Rosales Fajardo was involved in a violent attack on 11 July at the headquarters of the Communist Party of Cuba in Palma Soriano that left seven law enforcement officers and one civilian injured.
Nevertheless, live footage and photos from that day show that several armed police and members of a paramilitary group attacked peaceful, unarmed demonstrators in the middle of the street, and it is seen that Rosales Fajardo was violently grabbed by the neck.
The government denies accusations of violence against the pastor, including a beating that left him unconscious.
CSW denounce that the government “also falsely states that the pastor’s wife, Maridilegnis Carballo was informed within 24 hours of their detention of the whereabouts of her husband and her son who was detained and separated from him” , because the wife did not know her husband's location until 14 July, while her son, who returned home seven days later, still does not know where he was being held, because he was taken in vehicles with blacked-out windows.
Concern in the family
CSW shared the Cuban government letter with the wife of the pastor, who was shocked and distressed when she learned of the eight-year prison sentence through the government's response to the UN.
“I don’t know if I can bear so much injustice and so many lies… how painful to see the disgraceful condition of the government of this nation. They speak of procedures and yet they have mostly just said lies. So many lies”, said Maridilegnis.
According to the pastor wife, “there was no violence. Even in the trial they were unable to prove that. He did not use violence against anyone and that was made more than clear. They know that we are all witnesses to their lies. They no longer even have the shame to hide their lies”.
Maridilegnis Carballo shared on her social media that a few days ago she was able to visit her husband in prison. “Although I saw him in good health and with an unshakable faith, it breaks my heart to leave and see him behind those unjust bars, but God is fair, and we will be together again as a family”.
CSW calls on the Cuban government “to immediately release” the pastor
CSW pointed out that “it unconscionable that the Cuban government would inform the United Nations via a public letter of its decision, apparently made in December, to sentence Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo to eight years in prison, before officially informing either the pastor or his family and months after the fact”.
“We share Mrs Carballo’s frustration at the blatant lies that make up the majority of the government’s response, which constitutes a poor attempt to justify its treatment of Rosales Fajardo, and note that many religious groups, including the pastor’s former denomination, have publicly condemned the government’s harsh treatment of those who participated in the peaceful demonstrations”, they added.
The Christian organisation called on “the Cuban government to immediately release Rosales Fajardo and all of those detained in connection with the 11 July protests, and to cease its harassment of all religious leaders”.