Local Mexican Officials Incarcerate Villager for Religious Beliefs

Villager jailed three times and family placed under house arrest for refusing to convert

09/15/2015 Washington D.C., (International Christian Concern) –International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a local villager in Oaxaca State, Mexico, has been incarcerated and released on three different occasions for refusing to recant his Christian beliefs. Lauro Nunez Perez was jailed twice in July and once in September by local officials in Santiago Campotlan Villa Atla municipality, Oaxaca before being forced to sign a document agreeing to leave the community or recant his religious beliefs.

During Mr. Nunez’s final incarceration, seven villagers protested in his defense and called for his release. As a result, each of the protestors was jailed overnight by Priciliano Alejo, a municipal agent of Las Chachalacas village, where Mr. Nunez lives.

According to Giezi Campos Cancino, representative of the Ambassadors of Christ Evangelistic Ministry, a registered religious association to which Nunez Perez belongs, Mr. Nunez was forced to sign a document renouncing his faith during his second incarceration by Priciliano Alejo, allegedly for professing a different faith from the village majority. Mr. Alejo also ordered the village school director to bar Mr. Nunez’s children from attending school.

The state Ombudsman, an official who investigates individual reports of rights violations, has publically condemned the incarceration of Mr. Nunez, officially opening an investigation into the case on July 9th.

At time of writing, Mr. Nunez remains confined to his home along with his family and is barred from travelling within the community. The family has also been told that if they leave the village they will be permanently expelled.

In recent years, dozens of similar cases have arisen in various southern Mexican states including Puebla, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Guerrero, and Chiapas, raising concerns about the Mexican government’s ability to protect religious minorities from persecution. In July the United States questioned Mexico over reports of widespread religious discrimination in several different states.

According to ICC sources, rights groups have reported Mr. Nunez’s case to the State of Oaxaca and the Department of Religious Affairs in Mexico City. A meeting between delegates of the community and representatives for Mr. Nunez has been set for this Thursday.

In 2013, a mob of traditionalist Catholics jailed several evangelical Christians in Oaxaca, Mexico after a local mayor ordered their church to be demolished and for members of the evangelical community to be “lynched and tortured.”

International Christian Concern’s Advocacy Director, Isaac Six, said, “The repeated arrest of Mr. Nunez and the abuses committed against his family are a horrific example of the type of religious discrimination that has been left to spread unseen and largely unchecked across much of rural Mexico over the last two decades. The state of Oaxaca has an obligation to Mr. Nunez to protect his fundamental right to believe and profess whatever faith he chooses. It is absolutely unacceptable for local or state officials to stand idly by, or in this case even participate in, such a blatant violation of Mr. Nunez’s rights and Oaxaca officials should heed the call of their own Ombudsman by acting swiftly to rectify the situation.”   

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