by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Three Christians in Mexico were released Thursday after being jailed three days for refusing to help fund a patron saint festival that involves a mix of indigenous and Catholic religious traditions, Morning Star News (MSN) reports. The believers were freed following representations by the Defense of Human Rights of the Peoples of Oaxaca (DDHPO) organization.
Bonifacio Martínez Sánchez, Donato Martínez Sánchez and Gerino Hernández Martínez of San Pedro Chimaltepec village in Oaxaca state were imprisoned by local authorities on Monday January 3, MSN reports. The Christians are members of the area’s Emmanuel Mission Center Church, which is led by Pastor Cipriano Gazca Maldonado.
Pastor Maldonado said in a press statement that his parishioners were jailed by mayor Demetrio Isidoro Jiménez, even though there is no law requiring citizens to contribute to last month’s patron saint festival, MSN reports. “They haven’t committed any crime. They were jailed for not paying the festival dues of last December 18, Pastor Maldonado said. Moreover, the pastor added, in a further violation of their rights, the men were held incommunicado during their incarceration.
The believers were freed after leaders of the Defense of Human Rights of the Peoples of Oaxaca (DDHPO) made representations to government officials and the Oaxaca Secretary General of Government’s office spoke to village officials, MSN reports.
Similar cases to that of the three men have been reported: Christian attorneys note that Mexico’s “Uses and Customs” laws have been abused in violation of religious freedom guaranteed by the country’s constitution, MSN reports. Mexico ranks 37 on the US Open Doors Watch List of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.