Although the Patmos Institute is among the signatories of Cuban and international organizations which have expressed an immediate reaction to Cuba being elected this past October 13th, for a three year term at the UN Human Rights Council, we also wish to manifest our own point of view, backed by religious organizations, all of which are within Cuba. Given the overt and constant violations of religious freedoms in Cuba, we consider it an utmost and blatant hypocrisy, to include a systematic abuser, not only of religious freedoms, but of all basic human rights, among nations which occupy a seat in the Human Rights Council, established to enforce and to investigate, the respect of all human rights.
This election of October 13th, 2020 does not take us by surprise, considering:
- This is the fifth time that after the establishment of the Human Rights Council in 2006, the island nation has sat in this United Nations organism. Everytime, it has used its seat to defend and to praise, serial human rights abusers as Venezuela, Russia and China.
- The Human Rights Council is also home to other authoritarian regimes, which serves as an international collusion which attempts to gang up to distort its legitimate and intended purposes. This has been amply demonstrated by the behavior as well as voting practices of those who have represented Cuba in the Human Rights Council since 2006, in the four previous mandates in which Havana voted only 66 times in favor of the 205 draft resolutions tabled to confront severe human rights violations throughout the world.
- This scenario further explains what was set forth by the then Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations, Her Excellency, Nikki Haley, when she made it known on June 19th of 2018, that the United States of America was withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council. The then United States maximum representative to the United Nations pointed a finger at the constant singling out of Israel in the Human Rights Council, all the while turning a blind eye at major and arbitrary human rights abuses in other parts of the world.
As defenders of religious rights we add that besides all of the above reasons we set forth, regarding this immoral election of the Cuban regime, we also remember that Cuba has not extended an invitation to the island, to the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights defenders, and neither has Havana allowed entry to the UN Rapporteur for Religious Freedoms, Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, notwithstanding his availability for a mission to Cuba.
As representatives that we are of the faith of thousands of Cubans, those organizations signing this statement, we hope that the door remains open for change, given the real and perhaps imminent possibility of such taking place in Cuba. We further do believe that the mandate conferred upon a tyranny in Cuba starting in January of 2021 at the Human Rights Council, could very well be filled within the upcoming three year term, by a legitimate government that would reflect the Cuban people’s aspiration for dignity through freedom.
Our joint declaration signed by organizations lacking any legal registry as it is denied by the regime, is further evidence of the illegality and chaos that is the norm in today’s Cuba. This joint declaration also remains open to include organizations that do enjoy the regime’s legal recognition, with the knowledge that such a step would bring upon them, repressive steps undertaken by the Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba. This entity suppresses, coaxes, and conditions “rights” in exchange of “favors”. We leave the possibility that they join us in this joint declaration so that history not reflect they, Cuban as we are, remained silent faced with such depravity as we have just encountered with the Cuban tyranny being elevated to be a judge in the arena of international human rights.