USCIRF today welcomed the release of A Dao, a pastor of the Montagnard Evangelical Church of Christ. Vietnamese authorities had arrested him on August 18, 2016, after he returned to Vietnam from a conference about religious freedom in East Timor.
Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project
Around the world, nations want to emulate the West in general, and the United States in particular, with regard to material achievements. We in the United States enjoy housing, clothes, electronics, and diet of an affluent nation. However, we have not done a good enough job of explaining to nations around the world that the major attribute that makes life worth living in the West is the freedom to express ideas in general, and religious ideas in particular.
USCIRF expressed concern about the health and wellbeing of Dennis Christensen, a Jehovah’s Witness prisoner of conscience still imprisoned in Russia. Christensen was granted parole on June 23, but USCIRF has learned that prosecutor Aleksei Shatunov subsequently appealed the decision. Christensen will remain in prison while a new hearing is scheduled, which could take weeks.
USCIRF welcomed the release of Pastor Ramón Rigal in Cuba. Pastor Rigal was detained with his wife Ayda Expósito on April 16, 2019 for homeschooling their children over concerns about Cuban schools’ promotion of socialism and atheism. They were later sentenced for crimes including “other acts against the normal development of a minor.” Expósito was released from prison this past April.