Cuban pastor and wife jailed for home-schooling their children because of their faith
A Cuban pastor and his wife have been jailed for educating their children at home, to avoid them being taught atheism at school in the communist country.
Pastor Ramón Rigal was jailed for two years and his wife, Ayda, for one-and-a-half years on 23 April after being charged with “acting against the normal development of a minor”.
The couple admitted they home-schooled, Ruth, 13, and Daniel, nine, because of the promotion of atheism and socialism in state-run Cuban schools. They were also concerned about the bullying that the children were experiencing at a school due to their Christian faith. Ruth and Daniel are now being looked after by their grandparents.
The decision was condemned in a report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga stated, “This crackdown on Christians home-schooling their children is part of the Cuban government’s systematic assault on religion, which includes singling out religious leaders and activists for harassment and discrimination.”
She urged the Cuban government to immediately release Pastor Ramón and his wife along with others detained for home-schooling their children according to their religious beliefs.
USCIRF said it was further alarmed that Roberto Jesus Quinones Haces, an independent lawyer who wanted to observe the trial, was detained and severely beaten.
Pastor Ramón was previously prosecuted and sentenced to a year of “correctional labour”, later reduced to house arrest, for home-schooling his children in 2017. The pastor was also banned from leading his church, and ordered to take up a low-paid government job checking the local water supply for disease.