Around 20 "Ladies in White" arrested on their way to church service
"Ladies in White" are under the siege of the Castro regime
Holguín / Frankfurt am Main (05th of March 2012) - The Cuban pastor Reutilio Columbie, president of the Cuban Pentecostal "Shalom" Christian Center Church, will permanently suffer from brain damage after an attack by governmental strong-arm men. As the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) reports, the Pentecostal pastor got threatening phone calls by the authorities for weeks. On the 6th of February he was attacked and maltreated in the city of Moa in the Eastcuban province Holguín. Pedestrians found the almost lifeless clergyman on the sidewalk and brought him to the emergency of the Holguín hospital. According to information of the ISHR, authorities refuse to investigate against the offenders.
According to Caridad Caballero Batista, member of the civil rights organization "Ladies in White" (Damas de Blanco), the speech center of the pastor is affected. Pastor Columbie, who has been released recently from hospital, is still in a critical condition: "He can't put words together and can't concentrate on what he is saying or thinking", the independent journalist says.
As ISHR reports, pastor Reutilio Columbie had been for weeks before the attack under surveillance of the Cuban regime. After he complained at the local community that his van which he used to transport churchgoers to his religious center, had been confiscated, he got threatening phone calls for weeks. Nevertheless Reutilio Columbie still demanded the return of his van.
The Pentecostal movement is a religious minority in Cuba. Around 40 percent of the population are Catholics; around 3 percent of the population are Protestants, mostly members of the Pentecostal movement. More than a half of the Cubans are undenominational.
Castro regime prevents "Ladies in White" from church services
Last Sunday around 20 "Ladies in White" were arrested on their way to the church service. As the ISHR furthermore reports, the arrests of the "Ladies in White" by the state security began already on Saturday: Caridad Caballero Batista, Gertrudis Ojeda, Miladis Pinales and Marta Diaz Rondo were arrested in Holguín. Nevertheless 117 "Ladies in White" in Cuba managed to attend the church service on Sunday and to pray for the release of political prisoners.
ISHR criticizes the brutal action of the Cuban government against Cuban citizens who demanded non-violently their rights. "Reutilio Columbie is still under surveillance of the political police, although he isn't even a member of a dissident group, but only claims his property back, which has been taken away without any reason", says Speaker of the Board of the ISHR Martin Lessenthin. "That the Cuban government doesn't try to clarify the case, is another sign that it approves and even supports inhuman attacks at church representatives. This can also be seen by its permanent attacks at the "Ladies in White", who are prevented every week from attending the church service", adds Lessenthin.
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