Cuban Pastor Sentenced to One Year of Heavy Labor and House Arrest for Homeschooling Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pastor Ramon Rigal Was Sentenced on Truancy Charges for Homeschooling His Children

07/13/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 7, Pastor Ramon Rigal, leader of Iglesia de Dios en Cristo, was sentenced to one year of heavy labor and house arrest for choosing to homeschool his children. Rigal has openly stated that his decision to homeschool was largely attributed to his Christian faith.

Diario de Cuba reported that, originally, Guantanamo courts had sentenced Rigal to one year of imprisonment. After appealing, this most recent adjudication led to a modified reduction of the punishment. Rigal confirmed that his legal counsel proved that he did not commit any serious criminal act. Rigal commented on the outcome, “I saw a bit more justice during the trial. We had good representation. Our lawyer demonstrated in every circumstance that we had not broken any criminal law.” Despite a strong legal showing, Rigal would still be penalized with the one-year sentence mentioned above.
Pastor Mario F. Barroso, a religious freedom activist from the Patmos Institute, as well as a close friend of Rigal, clarified to ICC, “Correctional labor is a form of forced physical punishment, where the state typically chooses the locations and the working conditions. People sentenced to this penalty are assigned to a ranch or a farm of some sort, and believe me it’s not light work.”
Rigal’s case has garnered some international attention in previous months. In February, Rigal was arrested because of his actions. This led to protests outside of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC in May. Protesters specifically picketed with signs that read, “Free the Rigals,” but organizers and participants were also focusing on the larger problem of Cuba’s repression and stronghold on education. Cuban law does not permit homeschooling, founded on the claim that it “promotes capitalist values” and thereby conflicts with the regime’s inculcation of socialism.
Rafael Cardona, ICC’s Latin America Correspondent, stated, “It is very concerning and disheartening when a Christian pastor faces harsh punishment simply for deciding to homeschool his children. It is even more egregious when a tough punishment is still issued despite having adequate legal defense and proving that no criminal laws were violated. In Pastor Rigal’s case, we have to be aware that he made multiple attempts to inform the state about the curricula and content of the education, including any religious elements. Nevertheless, the Cuban authorities still proceeded with a sentence that does not seem to fit the offense. Unfortunately, these kinds of repressive measures taken against people of Christian faith happen commonly in Cuba. We will continue to pray for Pastor Rigal and his family.”
For interviews with Rafael Cardona, ICC’s Latin America Correspondent, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

 

Good News for Freedom of Speech

Another Christian street preacher cleared of charges

Andrew Frost has been acquitted of a public order offence charge
Only a week after Mike Overd and Michael Stockwell’s public order convictions were overturned at Bristol Crown Court, another preacher has been acquitted of a public order offence charge.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Andrew Frost was acquitted last week at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.

Thank you for your support.

We are only able to help preachers like Mike, Michael and Andrew because of your generosity. 

Andrea Williams commented: “We give God all the glory for these results, which are fantastic victories for freedom of speech and the freedom to share the life-giving news of the gospel.

Help us continue protecting gospel freedoms

Another street preacher acquitted

Last week, Andrew Frost was acquitted of a public order offence charge, where he was accused of causing harassment, alarm and distress to two men in a homosexual relationship.

Andrew was preaching on the streets of Nottingham city centre in March this year. Andrew preached on the consequences of sin, and quoted Luke 13:1-5 and Matthew 15:19.

As he preached, two men holding hands walked by.

Rory Green, a friend of Andrew who was preaching alongside him at the time, gave evidence that the two men shouted abusive comments at Andrew.

Andrew continued to preach from Scripture.

The two men left, but approximately 15 minutes later a woman, who said she was the mother of one of the men, approached Andrew, and accused him of abusing her son and his partner. One of the men then returned and called the police.

The two men claimed that Andrew verbally abused them and directed several lewd comments at them, all of which Andrew denied.

But Andrew was charged under the Public Order Act 1986“with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.”

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Andrew was found not guilty at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court last week. The court also ordered the repayment of his legal fees.

Andrew was represented in court by Christian Legal Centre allied solicitor, Michael Phillips.

Read the full story

‘Jesus can set them free’

Andrew said: “I wanted these men to know the truth, that Jesus can set them free. Because in the sight of God, these things are wrong.”

“I am thankful that the judge saw sense and acquitted me of this charge,” he continued.“Christians need to be free to share the good news of the gospel to anyone who will listen – as we are commanded in Scripture to do.

“I want to say thank you to the Christian Legal Centre for supporting me throughout this process.”

Help others like Andrew to keep sharing the good news

Public order convictions overturned

Thank you for praying for Mike Overd and Michael Stockwell, whose public order convictions were overturned two weeks ago.

Mike and Michael were convicted of religiously aggravated public order convictions in February this year. They were found guilty under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 at Bristol Magistrates’ Court.

Mike and Michael had been arrested for preaching at a Bristol shopping centre in July 2016, along with two other men.

Swedish Court Fails to Protect Midwife Forced to Conduct Abortions

 

The Swedish Appeals Court issued a decision this week ruling that the government
can force medical professionals to perform abortions. If they refuse, they can lose their jobs. Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish midwife who holds to the Christian faith, has been denied employment at three different medical clinics simply because she will not perform abortions. “Participation in abortions should not be a requirement for employment as a medical professional. In accordance with international law, the court should have protected Ellinor’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience,” said the Alliance Defending  Freedom’s International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke. “For that reason, Ellinor is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.” Grimmark lost her initial case in November of 2015 when a district court found that her right to freedom of conscience did not protect her from being discriminated against for not preforming for
refusing abortions.

Pray for Keowynn, Kicked Out of His Home by His Son

Jul. 07, 2017 | Laos

Pray for Three Young Christian Women Abused by Muslim Leaders

Jul. 07, 2017 | Tanzania

Bonded Slavery in Pakistan

This report is all too common among the lower classes of Christians…

Sold Twice: A Pakistani Christian Brick Kiln Family – please help bonded “slave” labourers
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Nadeem and his wife are bonded brick kiln labourers in Pakistan, and parents of five children aged three to ten. Both are illiterate. Their work is heavy and back-breaking, under the blazing sun.

Nadeem and his family
Nadeem and his family

When Nadeem first began brick-making, ten years ago, he borrowed 42,000 rupees (about £300, €350) from the brick kiln owner. With the passage of time his debt has risen to 215,000 rupees (about £1,500, €1,800). Many brick kiln workers owe money to their employers, for without borrowing it is almost impossible for them to survive financially during the monsoon months when the heavy rain prevents them making bricks. These debts (on which interest is charged) keep the worker “bonded” to their employer, like a slave, unable to leave and seek another job.

Three years ago, Nadeem and his family were sold by his first employer to another brick kiln owner who treated them very badly. Nadeem’s wife fell ill but the brick kiln owner asked Nadeem to use force to make her continue working.

Making bricks is backbreaking work, in slave-like conditions, for Nadeem and his wife, and many Christians like them
Making bricks is backbreaking work, in slave-like conditions, for Nadeem and his wife, and many Christians like them

Then they were sold to yet another brick kiln owner for the cost of their debt – 215,000 rupees (£1,500, €1,800). Nadeem “signed” the agreement with a thumb-print, unaware that the document was committing him and his family to an even worse position. His new owner wants to have all five children working alongside their parents, to increase the number of bricks produced. So Nadeem cannot send them to school. The family cannot go to church any longer because the owner insists they work on Sundays. Until they pay back the ever-growing debt, they are trapped.

 

More on the country-good video.

Appalling unjust sentences in Iran

Shocking prison sentences for our Iranian brothers

An Iranian pastor has just paid a high price for refusing to obey official orders about how he should run his church – he’s been given a ten-year jail sentence!

Almost a month after his hearing, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz has learnt he’s been declared guilty of ‘evangelism’, among other charges. Two Christians on trial with him – Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Asgari – also face long prison sentences, on charges which included ‘acting against national security’.

Please pray that God’s peace will fall afresh on Pastor Victor, Amin and Hadi.

The three men appeared in court on June 11 – two-and-a-half years after Victor and Amin were arrested at Pastor Victor’s house in Tehran province on Boxing Day 2014. Hadi was arrested last August at a picnic in Firuzkuh, along with Pastor Victor’s son Ramiel.

Judge Ahmadpour has now sentenced Victor to ten years’ imprisonment, Amin to 15 years and Hadi to ten years plus a two-year travel ban. They plan to appeal.

In a further blow, Pastor Victor’s wife, Shamiran Issavi, has now been charged with ‘participating in foreign seminars’ and ‘acting against national security’. Both she and her son Ramiel are released on bail and are now awaiting trial.

  • Please ask God to reassure these men of His plans and purposes for their lives–Pastor Victor, Amin and Hadi (Jeremiah 29:11). Pray their appeal will be swift and successful.
  • Pray that all charges will be dropped against Shamiran, Ramiel and two other Christians arrested at the same Firuzkuh picnic: Mohamad Dehnay and Amir Sina Dashti.
  • Pray for our entire Christian family in Iran, who will be shaken by Judge Ahmadpour’s verdict: pray they will stand firm in their faith and put their trust in God. Pray that Judge Ahmadpour will recognise that Iran’s Christians want to build up their nation, not ‘threaten its security’.

(Sources: Middle East Concern)