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BosNewsLife (02/16/06) – Church leaders trying to represent the exiled Cuban community in the United States have urged Cubans not to participate in “government-organized mobs” which they claim increasingly harass human rights activists, including Christians, in Cuba.

The appeal received by BosNewsLife Thursday, February 16, came shortly after BosNewsLife learned that Cuba’s influential blind Christian dissident, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, was facing days of apparently government backed crowds, armed with loudspeakers, who allegedly threatened to storm his house and kill everyone inside.

Gonzalez Leiva, a lawyer and president of the Cuban Foundation of Human Rights, said in a message that last month crowds carried out “psychological torture” to pressure him “by force to go into exile from Cuba” after his house arrest sentence ends March 4, 2006.

“They prevent me from leaving my house, and I am without food, drinking water, and electricity. We are suffocating from the heat,” he said at the time in an e-mail message obtained by BosNewsLife.

“Those surrounding my home pound on my windows and my doors, and they have placed loudspeakers outside with blaring music 24 hours a day that prevents us from sleeping or resting,” Gonzalez Leiva added.

But “the brutal increase of government repression in Cuba has erupted not only against political prisoners and the non-violent opposition who try to change the deplorable situation in Cuba through reasonable means, but also against their family members…” said the Spiritual Leaders Working Group (SLWG), representing Cuban exiles and comprised of several church officials.

Three SLWG officials, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, Agustín Román, as well as Presbyterian Reverend Martín Anorga, and Episcopal Reverend established that “acts of repudiation in which pro-government mobs physically and verbally arbitrarily attack citizens, labeled “counter-revolutionaries,” increased both in brutality and frequency.”

They claimed the attacks are carried out “without any consideration whatsoever toward the victims, usually entire families, including women, children, and seniors.”

As “spiritual leaders of the Cuban community in exile, we must comply with our prophetic mission that is an essential part of our ministry, and express our most ardent condemnation before this demented exercise that equally defies the Christian concept of conviviality, and democratic standards of the proper relation between governors and the governed,” the group said.

The church leaders added “The Lord Jesus Christ, as benign and humble of Heart as he was, said in the Bible that “With the measure which ye give, it shall be measured to you” (Mark 4:24). “It is not possible to conceal the intrinsic evil of this situation, which calls out to heaven…” they said.

The Cuban government has strongly denied human rights abuses. Cuban leader Fidel Castro in several statements denied the existence of “dissidents” in his island, and said those being imprisoned are “counter revolutionaries working for the United States .”

The SLWG noted that recent international appeals calling for change “provoke more cruelty and audacity in the proceedings of those that rule in Cuba , as the European Union recently experienced.” However it stressed that despite “this should not lead anyone to frustration or indifference toward the despair of Cubans in the face of the oppression imposed on them.”

Dozens of religious leaders of the exile community drafted the document “Contra el terror, el civismo” (Against terror, civility), in which they express support for those Cubans, including neighbors, “who have shown their solidarity with activists who have been attacked by government-organized” mobs.

“We congratulate those compatriots who are recuperating their personal dignity by refusing to be accomplice to bad action…The ranks of those who are overcoming fear (can) take refuge in the description given us by Holy Scripture of those who please God: “He who proceeds honorably and practices justice, he who has loyal intentions and does not slander with his tongue, he who does no wrong to his neighbor or defames his neighbor…” (Psalm 14 to 15), the SLWG said.