A Cuban religious freedom activist was informed on 2 October that criminal charges against him have been dropped by Cuban state security.
Fếlix Yuniel Llerena López, a religious freedom activist, was informed on 2 October that criminal charges against him have been dropped by Cuban state security, and that he is allowed to travel abroad again.
Llerena López is the Central Region Coordinator for the Patmos Institute, an independent civil society organisation which promotes freedom of religion or belief and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. The 20 year old activist had been interrogated by state security agents on 27 April upon arrival at the Abel Santamaria International Airport in Santa Clara as he returned from an advocacy visit to the United States.
On 28 April, Llerena López was detained by state security agents, threatened and forced to sign an ‘Acta de Advertencia’ or pre-arrest warrant for public disorder.
He was later expelled from the Enrique José Varona Pedagogical University in Havana, ostensibly due to excessive absences from classes within the last month. However, Llerena López has stated that he had not registered the number of absences which would justify such action, and that the real reason behind his expulsion is his human rights activism.
“After five months of opposition, arrests, being expelled from University, intimidation, threats and a false accusation, today I can say that solidarity [and] the dignity of not giving up on principles […] triumphed,” he told CSW.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “While we welcome the criminal case against Fếlix Yuniel Llerena López being dropped, and the lifting of the ban on his international travel, we believe that these measures should not have been brought against him. We continue to call on the Cuban government to cease its harassment of human rights defenders and to turn its attention to addressing ongoing violations of freedom of religion or belief.”