Cuban Christian prosecuted for refusing military service based on his beliefs

Oscar Kendri Fial Echavarría, a young Christian in Santiago de Cuba, will be prosecuted for refusing to enter military service. The man states that he refuses because holding a gun goes against the Christian principles he believes in.

A military sector chief went to visit his house to hand him his summons and told him that he would be imprisoned if he would not enter military service. The Christian, who is also the leader of a Christian youth movement in Contramaestre, told him about his Christian principles but was arrested by the police on December 11, only to be released a day later after paying his bail of 1,000 pesos.

“I am obliged to undergo military service, but there are other religions that do not, such as Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Soldiers of the Cross of Christ”, he says. He agrees that he must serve a social service but that a military one is no option for him. On December 22 the first oral hearing of his trial took place.

Oscar Kendri Fial Echavarría is a conscientious objector. The right to conscientious objection to military service is based on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief. Cuba has signed the covenant but has not ratified it. The fact that he is not allowed to perform a social service instead of a military one based on his beliefs strongly interferes with the right to religious freedom.

The Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America is a program of the Foundation Platform for Social Transformation, a registered charity in Voorburg, The Netherlands under Chamber of Commerce #50264249.

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