On Friday, March 5, the youth organizer of the Association of Free Yorubas of Cuba, Dairon Hernández Pérez, was detained, beaten, and robbed by Cuban State Security and Rapid Response Brigades outside his home. He was returning from a religious event. GLA is investigating the matter. More details, including photos and video, are included at the end of this post.
In a video statement, Mr. Hernández and his mother Free Yorubas Executive Secretary Donaida Pérez Paseiro assert that he was beaten on the head, stomach, back, and legs, his religious articles were broken, and money he carried on his person was taken. State Security also threatened to run him over with a car, and to jail him for "precriminal dangerousness." In other words, repression.
The brutal attack occurred less than 2 weeks after the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) published an important Fact Sheet outlining how the Free Yorubas were victims of religious persecution. The Global Liberty Alliance has been providing information to USCIRF about this matter, and others and has urged the U.S. government to impose economic sanctions on Cuba's Religion Police, a Stasi-like entity that is part of the Communist Party and called the Office of Religious Affairs.
Today, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released a new report on the state of the santería (also known as Yoruba) tradition in Cuba. According to USCIRF, the report “provides a brief overview of the traditions of the Santeria community in Cuba and highlights the religious freedom violations that community experiences.” The report gives evidence of religious freedom violations against the Association of Free Yorubas that the Global Liberty Alliance uncovered, thanks to the support of Cuban civil society leaders.
Today, the Global Liberty Alliance (GLA) was informed that a human rights complaint filed by Pastor Alayn Toledano, of the Assemblies of God Church, received reply from the Cuban government. Pastor Toledano has been restricted from traveling outside Cuba because of an alleged offense of “Disobedience,” and appealed this unjust travel restriction on January 19. The District Attorney’s Office responded that they were working on the case on January 29, the first time that Pastor Toledano has received a response to his inquiries. Legal representation secured by GLA seems to have made a difference this time.
In a show of courage, 15 Cuban priests spoke out against the regime's abuses, urging democracy and freedom for their country. GLA published their letter in English here.
Read more at Breitbart News (English), Babalú Blog, and ADN Cuba (Spanish):
GLA received word that yesterday, December 10, on International Human Rights Day, Association of Free Yorubas members Yolexi Sánchez was detained by State Security, and threatened with 3 years' jail time and loss of his job.
The reason? He belonged to the Association of Free Yorubas and to civil society organization Julio Machado Academy. Cuban State Security assured Mr. Sánchez that if he didn't quit both the Free Yorubas and the Julio Machado Academy, the father of 3 would be fired from his job and given 3 years of prison for "endangerment." Mr. Sánchez of course refused to abandon his beliefs and friends. Listen to testimony from Free Yoruba leadership below.
GLA denounces all state attempts to control freedom of worship and assembly, and is defending Mr. Sánchez and all those repressed under totalitarian regimes like Cuba's.
NEWS ALERT: Stones Thrown in "Act of Repudiation" against Yoruba San Isidro Movement Activist, Jovián Díaz Batista
The Global Liberty Alliance has learned that earlier today, Association of Free Yorubas and San Isidro Movement member, the young Jovián Díaz Batista, suffered from an "act of repudiation" at his home. This time, the "repudiation" included people throwing stones at the home where he lives with his wife; the couple sheltered in place for fear of further violence.
"Acts of repudiation," a common occurrence in Cuba, are acts of intimidation, concocted by authorities and made to look like spontaneous protests against dissidents,
For more information, listen to the below testimony by the Association of Free Yorubas leader Loreto Hernández García, and see the below footage of the repression filmed by Mr. Díaz Batista himself, courtesy of ADN Cuba News.
The Global Liberty Alliance (GLA) renewed calls for sanctioning Cuba's Office of Religious Affairs on November 2, 2020, in response to the October 30 demolition of an Assemblies of God church in Santiago de Cuba, and arrest of the church's pastors and those recording the incident.
Early on Friday, October 30, 2020, an Assemblies of God church in Santiago de Cuba was demolished by order of the Cuban State, and Pastor Alain Toledano, who livestreamed the incident, was arrested and held in police custody for over five hours. The church's pastor and his wife had already been detained.
GLA believes this to be yet another egregious offense against religious freedom in Cuba, part of regular repressive activity conducted by Cuba's Office of Religious Affairs and other cooperating agencies. Read our press release by clicking on Read More.
For months, members of the Missionary Church of Cuba (“Iglesia Misionera de Cuba”) in Victoria, Las Tunas, have been pelted with stones on their way to worship. Originally occurring once a week, now the attacks have escalated to twice a week. According to church head Pastor Yoel Demetrio, the move is designed to scare off his congregation, as well as to pressure the pastor to weaken his message. Churchgoers cannot see who is throwing stones at them, but they all suspect state officials have instigated the attacks. Complaints to Cuban police have brought no results.
Yesterday, on September 30, 2020, two Cuban women who are members of the Association of Free Yorubas executive committee were arrested, held overnight, and beaten by State Security.