Cuba will prosecute young Christian man for opposing forced military service

Even at the risk of being imprisoned, Oscar Kendri Fial Echavarría refuses to join the military arguing that he wants to be “faithful to his own convictions and to the principles that the Bible teaches.”
Cuba will prosecute young Christian for refusing Military Service

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Oscar Kendri Fial Echavarría, one of the youth leaders of a Christian denomination in the eastern Cuban municipality, of Contramaestre, has been harassed throughout the year by Cuban authorities. The government submitted an official notice on March 22 of this year, forcing the young man to join the military service.

Even at the risk of being imprisoned, Oscar Kendri Fial Echavarría refuses to join the military arguing that he wants to be “faithful to his own convictions and to the principles that the Bible teaches.” He informed the Cuban YouTuber, Ruhama Fernández, who shared a video of the testimony of the Conscientious Objector and his father, who supports his decision to object and rest the obligatory service.

“The Head of the police department came to my home and gave me the notice in person. He came in and started speaking loudly saying that if I did not comply they would arrest me. I said that I cannot join the Military Service because of my Christian convictions'', explains Fial, who is a member of the Church of Apostle Valerio.

"I can't hold a gun with my hand," he says with conviction and recounts some of the interactions with the totalitarian regime on the Island.

“That day I had the discussion with the cop, we went to the court and denounced him (…). When I came back from the court, that same day in the afternoon, I ran into the policeman at the local bakery. He approached me and asked if he had complied with the notification and had gone to the police department. I told him no. That’s when he started to say things and offend me.”

Oscar Kendri Fial notes that someone accused the same policeman in another state. The cop was “reprimanded and demoted.” However, the government continues to expect that the young Christian man complies with the obligatory military service and called him to “testify.”

On December 11, they arrested him and did not release him until the next day when they paid 1000 pesos in bail. The court date has been set for December 22 and the reason is cited as "disobedience" to the so-called Obligatory Military Service.

The young man questions why the government is forcing him to join the military if “there are religions that object to forced service like the Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Soldiers of the Cross of Christ.”

The father of the Conscientious Objector says that the authorities “have to respect his (son’s) Christian principles.” The father says that, although he is not Christian like his son, he does not agree with the harassment to which he’s being subjected,  and that he does not agree with the government “trying to impose something that clearly goes against his (son’s) convictions”.

“On the other hand, we are not in disagreement with completing some form of social service, but without the requirement of taking up arms, without swearing the oath, because his convictions as Christian prohibit him to do so. If we have to respect the law, as we do, then [the government] must respect our convictions, because that is their law.  The law that he has to respect. The government and everyone else must respect his(son’s) convictions.”

The father of Oscar Kendri Fial also criticizes the government for accusing his son of “military disobedience, when he is still not part of the military (…) he is a civilian.”

In Ruhama Fernández’s video, she presents the military service citation as well as receipts of the bail payment as evidence of the harassment by the authorities.

“For a year now, he has been receiving constant visits and citations. They want to make him (and his legal case) an example because so many young Christian guys, youth from his own church, will soon be drafted. They want to make this case a lesson of the youth”, Fernández declared to ADN Cuba.

The refusal to take up arms and serve the regime is growing. In Havana, Osmel Adrián Rubio Santos, the youngest of the activists who peacefully protested at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) for the release of rebellious rapper Denis Solís, called for the popular rejection of compulsory military service in Cuba.

“Friends, I want to do something, and I need you to support me and give me your advice, please. Something that many of your young family members will benefit from, but I would like you to tell me how I can do it because I want to collect the signature of all young Cubans who are not willing to take up arms in favor of this dictatorial regime,” wrote Rubio on his Facebook profile.

According to the young man, besieged by a permanent police surveillance operation that prevents him from leaving his home (and detained several times), the only objective of military service in Cuba is to "kill Cubans."

Since his refusal to join the Military Service, Osmel Adrián has been harassed and threatened by the regime. On Sunday, October 18, he was detained for almost two hours as he left the national headquarters of the Ladies in White, in Lawton, where he had gone to publicize on social networks a new summons that the military authorities sent him.

This was a follow-up to the letter that he delivered in September to the Military Committee of the Cotorro municipality, in Havana, refusing to carry out military service under the current Cuban regime. In the letter, the young man clearly stated that he would not take up arms to defend the communist regime.