Mother who was jailed for homeschooling released

By WND Staff

A mother sentenced to prison by Cuba’s communist regime for educating her children at home has been released, according to the world’s premier homeschooling advocate, the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Mike Donnelly, senior counsel and director of Global Outreach for the organization, said Adya Rigal “is now home with her children, and we rejoice.”

Her husband, Ramon, remains in prison, however, on the same charge.

Donnelly said the couple “stood up to the communist regime of Cuba, not as counterrevolutionaries, but as parents concerned for the welfare of their children.”

“They were not trying to overthrow the government of Cuba. They only wanted to protect their children from bullying and to give them a good education,” he said.

They were convicted in 2017 of homeschooling and sentenced last year to prison.

Ramon told Donnelly in a letter, “I have been psychologically tortured by the authorities.”

The HSLDA has lobbied the U.S. government to intervene.

“Our country should not stand by silently as the Cuban government violates his rights,” he wrote.

Just weeks ago, HSLDA asked for Americans to urge Congress to pass a resolution condemning the Cuban regime.

Donnelly, at the time, cited the United Nations Convention against Torture, signed by Cuba in the 1990s. It prohibits government officials from inflicting physical or mental suffering on a person in an attempt to obtain something.

“In this case, it appears Cuban officials are trying to extract a pledge from Pastor Rigal to comply with laws that force children to attend state schools. They apparently wish to make an example of him because of his influence as a pastor,” Donnelly said.

“But Pastor Rigal and others initially resisted sending their children to state school because they did not want their students indoctrinated in Marxist ideology – which is founded on militant atheism. Punishing Pastor Rigal for wanting to convey religious values to his family, then, comprises a double violation of basic rights which Cuba promised to uphold in other international protocols.”

Donnelly said he wants to see Congress pass Senate Resolution 215, which calls for greater religious and political freedoms in Cuba.

The resolution states:

Whereas the Castro regime has used arbitrary incarcerations, harassment, and intimidation to deny basic freedoms to thousands of Cubans since the Cuban Revolution;

Whereas, in April 2019, a family was sent to prison by authorities in Cuba for homeschooling their children;

Whereas the children were enrolled in a Christian distance school in Honduras;

Whereas the families involved, which included a pastor, cited religious reasons for homeschooling their children;

Whereas the Government of Cuba has a history of arresting individuals who chose to homeschool their children and sentencing them to prison time and hard labor;

Whereas the Government of Cuba’s insistence on state-controlled education is a sign of authoritarianism, enabling them to indoctrinate youth with a communist ideology;

Whereas parents have the right to teach their children free from the state indoctrination of an autocratic regime;

Whereas the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom formerly condemned Cuba for actions pertaining to the April 2019 imprisonment of those who homeschool their children;

Whereas the United States has instituted an embargo on Cuba in 1960;

Whereas the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (22 U.S.C. 6021 et seq.) does not permit these sanctions to be lifted until the Castro regime has been deposed and Cuba has legalized political activity and made a commitment to free and fair elections; and

Whereas, despite the 2014 Executive branch decision to normalize relations with Cuba, it is still in the power of Congress to lift an embargo: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) expresses solidarity with the people of Cuba in their pursuit of religious freedom;

(2) calls on the Government of Cuba to release all political prisoners, including those who have been imprisoned for homeschooling their children;

(3) calls on the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to grant the Precautionary Measures requested on April 25, 2019;

(4) calls on the Government of Cuba to recognize the right of parents to teach their own children free from state communist indoctrination;

(5) calls on the Government of Cuba to institute democratic reforms, including reforms that guarantee freedom of religion; and

(6) calls for the continued implementation of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996.

Donnelly said Americans can encourage members of Congress to pass the resolution by signing an online petition.

The family’s case attracted the attention of an international watchdog established by Congress.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said regarding the prosecution of the Rigals that Cuba is “singling out religious leaders and activists for harassment and discrimination.”

“We urge the Cuban government to immediately cease all intimidation tactics and release Pastor Rigal and his wife along with others detained for homeschooling their children according to their religious beliefs,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga.

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