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Cuban authorities called to cease harassment of pastor

Pastor Alain Toledano Valiente, leader of Emanuel Church in Santiago de Cuba was first summoned by police last Thursday for not having permission to hold a youth event, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

When asked to sign a pre-arrest warrant, which threatened him with arrest if the activity went ahead he refused and was summoned a second time by authorities.

Valiente, who is a prominent leader in the country's apostolic movement told CSW he was concerned that the actions of the police were an attempt to provoke him.

On Monday, Valiente was instructed to the visit the Department of Physical Planning's office, where he was told an inspection would be carried out on a plot of land where Emanuel Church is constructing a new building.

The owners of the land where the church currently meets were also threatened and forced to sign a document prohibiting church services on their property and threatened to confiscate the property if they refused.

Emmanuel Church has been subjected to a series of threats by the government to prevent the construction of the property.

In February 2016, Emanuel Church's building had been demolished by authorities and hundreds of church members were detained.

Toledano Valiente told CSW: "They are looking to throw us into the street again.

"The intention of what they are doing, attacking the two locations where we are today and where we could be to block both places. They don't want me to continue the construction because they know that the church would end up with somewhere [to meet]. They are trying to slow everything down."

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: "CSW is deeply concerned by the continuing harassment of Apostle Alain Toledano Valiente, who has been targeted by the authorities for several years. It is clear that the recent repeated summons, the threats against the owners of the land where his church currently meets and the impending inspection of the plot for a new church building are aimed at intimidating him and ultimately depriving a congregation of a venue in which to practice their faith peaceably.

"We call on the Cuban authorities to cease all harassment of Toledano Valiente and other religious leaders immediately, allowing them to travel, construct places of worship and hold peaceful religious events without unwarranted interference from the state."

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