A Cuban evangelical pastor has been jailed one year and his wife faces a year of house arrest for removing their children from Cuba’s state-run school system in favor of homeschooling. On Thursday, activists protested the communist regime’s decision in front of the Cuban embassy in Washington D.C. and demanded political asylum for Pastor Ramon Rigal and his family.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which is working on the Rigals behalf, the pastor and his wife chose to homeschool their children after they began to face indoctrination and backlash for their faith in the Marxist-friendly schools.
As outlined in the CitizenGo petition created by the HSLDA, “homeschooling is fundamental right of all families.” Mike Donnelly, an attorney and director of global outreach for the Virginia-based organization, told the Christian Post that the Cuban government’s decision to jail Rigal is inhumane and violates the tenets of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by the island nation in 2008 and “recognizes the role of parents having the ability to conform the education of their children to their religious beliefs and philosophical convictions.”
“[Homeschooling is] a human right that is recognized around the world as a fundamental human right,” Donnelly said. “And Cuba has signed international treaties acknowledging this fact.”
Those that gathered outside the Cuban embassy in D.C. on Thursday were attempting to deliver the CitizenGo petition that has garnered some 31,000 signatures, but they were turned away by officials. While the Rigals hope to stay in Cuba and continue serving their congregation, they are also open to coming to the United States should it prove to be the only option.
As the Christian Post reported, Will Estrada, director of federal relations for HSLDA, recommends that should the Cuban government continues to oppress Christians the Trump administration should “tear-up the normalization of relations that the Obama administration did and change things.”
“We should not be rewarding a communist country,” he said, “if they continue to crack down on religious minorities.”