Two Imprisoned Christians Released from Prison in Chiapas, Mexico

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ICC Note: As previously reported, Andres Lopez, Virginia Lopez, and three girls were imprisoned for their conversion to Protestantism in Chiapas, Mexico. Although the girls were released earlier once it was discovered that they were minors, on July 10, 2015, Andres and Virginia were released as well and relieved of the initial demand of their respective 5,000 and 2,500 peso fines. State authorities were responsible for intervening in the case and village leaders have since stated that they will allow the Christians to practice their faith freely.

07/16/2015 Mexico (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) – Two Protestants were released from prison on 10 July and local authorities promised to respect religious freedom after state authorities intervened in their case.

Andres Lopez and Virginia Lopez, both from the village of Tseteltón, had been imprisoned in the municipal capital of San Juan Chamula, in Chiapas State since 7 July because of their conversion to Protestantism.

Luis Herrera of the Coordination of Christian Organizations and Voice of the Martyrs – Mexico told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that as part of the agreement the two victims will not be forced to pay a fine because of their religious conversion. Originally, the Andres Lopez had been told he would have to pay a fine of 5000 pesos (approximately £200) while Virginia Lopez would have to pay a fine of 2500 pesos (approximately £100). Village authorities had based the decision to imprison and fine them based on a 2014 covenant put in place by the village leaders that prohibited conversion.

Village leaders, in the agreement negotiated by state government religious affairs officials and municipal leaders, agreed to allow the Protestants, who belong to the Jesus is the Way Church to practice their faith in freedom. According to Herrera, while the village leaders agreed not to cut the water and electricity supply to the homes of the Protestants, they continued to maintain that the children of the Protestants should not attend the local school. Although the government officials reportedly rejected this condition, the Protestant minority agreed to send their children to another school as a gesture of goodwill. Herrera pointed out that non-Catholic children in another village in the same municipality have also been blocked from attending state school.

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