OAA Marks Fourth International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2023
Denounces continued attacks on religious communities in Cuba and Nicaragua
Miami, FL – Outreach Aid to the Americas (OAA) today released the following statement ahead of the fourth International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion Belief tomorrow.
This day was designated for August 22 by the United Nations General Assembly to highlight the grave violation of human rights and dignity that results from “all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centers or places of worship.” The UN in its designation also recognized “the importance of providing victims…and members of their families with appropriate support and assistance in accordance with applicable law.”
OAA President and CEO Dr. Teo Babun said:
“The fourth anniversary of this day comes at a difficult time in our hemisphere, where we witness almost every day vicious attacks and campaigns of hate against religious communities by the dictators in Cuba and Nicaragua.
“In Cuba independent religious leaders of various traditions continue to be subjected to intimidation, harassment, and deprivation of liberty for speaking out motivated by their faith. To take one especially egregious example, the evangelical pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo remains in prison, serving a seven-year sentence, where he’s been terribly mistreated, simply for peacefully demonstrating with thousands of other Cubans during the historic, island-wide protests of July 11, 2021 (“11J”). This peaceful pastor not only has been separated from his wife and children – in prison he was severely beaten and even urinated on by prison officials.
“In Nicaragua, just last week we saw the lawless confiscation of the historic Jesuit Central American University by the Ortega-Murillo regime, the latest brazen attack on the country’s Catholic Church. This action has left around 5,000 students and graduates in limbo, uncertain about their professional and personal future. The week before, the regime cruelly prohibited three Catholic priests – Eladio Sánchez, William Mora, and Tomas Zamora Calderón – from reentering the country upon their return from Portugal, where they participated in the annual World Youth Day, a major celebration of the Catholic Church.
“And we once again highlight the continued imprisonment of the outspoken Bishop Rolando Alvárez, who has now twice refused to be released at the price of his exile from his country. Although the Ortega regime’s treatment of Bishop Alvárez is completely deplorable, the bishop, through his steadfastness and defiance of his tormenters, has become a source of hope and inspiration for Catholics and other faithful wherever they are persecuted for their faith.”
In June OAA held a webinar about the state of religious freedom in Cuba featuring Cuban Muslim, Yoruba, and Jewish leaders, who strongly denounced the regime’s attacks on their minority religious communities. Earlier this year OAA with the Patmos Institute also submitted to the UN a civil society report for its Universal Periodic Review of Cuba, which will take place later this year. For more information about Nicaragua, see OAA’s brief “Nicaragua’s Evolving Religious Freedom Crisis.”
Outreach Aid to the Americas (OAA) is a faith-based nonprofit dedicated to helping vulnerable communities in the Americas through humanitarian assistance, development programs, and human rights advocacy. Learn more at www.oaausa.org. For media inquiries, please contact Javier Peña at [email protected] or 301-633-4697
COMUNICADO DE PRENSA
21 de Agosto de 2023
OAA Observa el Día Internacional de Conmemoración de las Víctimas de Actos de Violencia Basados en la Religión o la Creencia
Denuncia ataques continuos a comunidades religiosas en Cuba y Nicaragua