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World News

'It really is heart-breaking': Cuban Pastor sentenced to eight years in prison

by Alex Collett

A Cuban Pastor has been sentenced to eight years in prison, according to 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 requesting information regarding the detention of the Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo. 

Pastor Lorenzo is the leader of the independent, non-denominational church called Monte de Sion in Palma Soriano and was initially arrested for taking part in nationwide peaceful protests that swept Cuba in July last year. 
The document sent to the UN also listed the reasons why he had been arrested.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide's (CSW) press and public affairs team leader, Kiri Kankhwende told Premier that the accusations in the letter are false. 

"That letter was full of lies, about the reason for the pastor's arrest. They accused him of violence, but he is a man of peace, he is a man of God and in fact, he was held in a chokehold by security officers. 

"So he's actually been a victim of violence, not the perpetrator of violence. 

"They lied about his church and said his church was independent and unregistered. But it used to belong to a registered denomination. 

"The letter says that he left voluntarily, but we know having worked on his case, and the correspondence that we've seen, that his church left his denomination because of pressure from the government, on the denomination and so they asked him to leave."

Kankhwende also spoke on the wider issue of the Cuban government, she said: "The Cuban Government is a repressive one and many different people who call for human rights find themselves being targeted by the government. 

"Religious groups in particular when they are independent, and not part of registered denominations face pressure as well. 

"But even within the so called registered denominations, the Cuban Communist Party controls all religious affairs on the island."

Kankhwende spoke of how devastating it has been for his family, she said: "There's still been no official documentation. No news of how they can appeal this. 

"It really is heart-breaking for them and it's also shocking that a government can treat innocent people in this way."

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