A Cuban pastor who heads up an unregistered church has been arrested and detained by the police. Pastor Karel Parra Rosabal, who leads the Fuego y Dinámica Apostolic Church, was arrested by a police unit in the town of Jobabo.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Pastor Parra Rosabal was falsely accused of "hoarding", while Cuban police told him that he was being arrested “so that you learn that illegal churches in Cuba are not allowed".
The raid on pastor Parra Rosabal's home took place on 12th January when officers arrived with a search warrant. On a previous search attempt, Pastor Parra Rosabal had sent the officers away after claiming that their warrant was not valid.
After searching his house, the officers announced to Pastor Parra Rosabal that he was under arrest for "hoarding", which equated to having too many tools without proof of purchase. The police obtained 50,000 pesos (approximately £1,400) worth of Pastor Parra Rosabal’s equipment.
It is being reported that the pastor was targeted due to his involvement in the Apostolic Movement, which operates a number of independent churches across the island. The Cuban government refuses to allow Apostolic Movement churches to officially register, effectively rendering them illegal.
The charge of "hoarding" has been used by police on previous occasions when they are looking to detain religious leaders.
Caption: Pastor Parra Rosabal with members of his congregation. Credit: CSW
CSW’s Head of Advocacy Anna Lee Stangl said: “The detention of Pastor Karel Parra Rosabal and the trumped-up charges against him are the latest case in a long record of the Cuban government targeting the pastors of unregistered churches for harassment and imprisonment.
"We call on the authorities to allow Pastor Parra Rosabal to return him to his wife and three young children and to allow him to continue his pastoral work and maintain his small business, which not only sustains his family in a difficult economic climate but also provides a valuable service to the community in an area of the country where transport options are severely limited.
"The police must return his bicycle repair equipment. CSW also calls on the international community, including the European Union which is planning an upcoming human rights dialogue with Cuban authorities, to urge Cuba to uphold its obligations under international law, especially in regard to the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion."
Pastor Parra Rosabal's trial was scheduled to start 21st January, but was pushed back pending further investigations. He is expected to be imprisoned for at least another week.