By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Pastor Yéremi Blanco Ramírez was detained on July 11, and fellow pastor Yarian Sierra, several sources confirmed.
In remarks shared with Worthy News, Rodríguez Reyes, the wife of Pastor Blanco Ramírez, said her family “and that of Yarian Enmauel Sierra are desperate because we have no news of them.”
“They told us where they are holding them, “ she added in a statement sent to Worthy News by advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). “But they [the authorities] have not even given us the right to call them, nor have they told us how they are, nor have they given us any news at all. Until when?! “she added. “Until when are we going to have to endure the abuse, mistreatment, the injustice! I am making a call to the world please, they are killing people, disappearing people, beating them, murdering parents in front of their children. Help us!!!! Our families are suffering.”
The woman also urged “Christians in Cuba and in the world to pray and intercede for all the disappeared.”
Pastors Yéremi Blanco Ramírez and Yarian Sierra are tutors at the William Carey Biblical Seminary in Matanzas and associated with the Berean Baptist denomination.
Christians said the men are being held in poor conditions in a wing of the Matanzas women’s prison. Additionally, the seminary president, Reverend Jatniel Peréz, “is under constant surveillance” by state security, CSW said. The group added that he had been prevented from leaving his home.
Anti-government demonstrations have been ongoing in Cuba since July and have been met with a heavy-handed response from Cuban security forces, Christians said.
Several protesters and Christian leaders have been detained, including Reverend Yusniel Pérez Montejo, a member of the Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba, rights activists said.
Reverend Pérez Montejo has since been released, however, he was subsequently subjected to a three-hour interrogation on 14 July, CSW said.
He was accused, though not formally charged, of incitement, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
Human rights activists on the island confirmed that the majority of those detained are facing charges of ‘incitement to delinquency’ during a ‘public calamity.
CSW’s Head of Advocacy, Anna-Lee Stangl, told Worthy News that “Our hearts go out to the families of pastors Yéremi Blanco Ramírez and Yarian Sierra. They continue to suffer with no news of the well-being of these two men.”
The official stressed that CSW had urged the government “to immediately and unconditionally release both pastors and all those detained in connection with the peaceful exercise of their basic human rights.” In addition, it was crucial “to drop any criminal charges made against them.”
The Cuban Communist Party, Stangl added, “must also cease its harassment of religious leaders and others on the island and guarantee the right to expression, freedom of religion or belief and all other fundamental rights.”
Several Christian leaders expressed solidarity with the protesters and “repudiating the government’s calls to violence.”
Among them were the Catholic Bishop’s Conference, the Evangelical League, the Methodist Church of Cuba, the Assemblies of God of Cuba, and the Cuban Conference of Monks and Nuns.
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