A Cuban pastor who was imprisoned without trial for six months has been released.
Reverend Jesús Noel Carballeda was apprehended and imprisoned by the Cuban government for holding unauthorized church services.
Cuba requires all religious organizations to register with the government and receive government approval before they can have a place to worship and conduct worship services.
Carballeda and his church are part of the Apostolic Movement, according to Christian Today. The Apostolic Movement is a network of Protestant churches which the Cuban government has refused to register.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) says it has documented 220 separate cases of religious discrimination in Cuba over the last year, which means religious persecution is on the rise.
CSW stated that they rejoiced over the release of Pastor Carballeda, but maintain that he was imprisoned unjustly and that Cuba’s laws restricting religious freedom need to be changed.
"While we welcome the release of Rev Jesús Noel Carballeda, we note that he was only released after serving a full six-month sentence for the supposed crime of holding unauthorised peaceful religious services," said CSW's special ambassador Stuart Windsor.
Pope Francis will be visiting Cuba this month and many Christians hope his visit will help to change the restrictive policies the Cuban government has set in place in regard to religion and its expression.
"We urge the government to cease its harassment of all religious groups, both registered and unregistered, and to allow religious groups who wish to register and to operate legally to do so,” Windsor stated.
Publication date: September 3, 2015