Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cuban protesters punched, dragged

Posted on Thursday, 03.18.10
Cuban protesters punched, dragged
For the second straight day, but in a much harsher manner, Cuban
security agents broke up a protest march by female relatives of jailed

Cuban security forces and pro-government civilians violently broke up
another protest march Wednesday by Ladies in White -- female relatives
of political prisoners -- and dragged them away in buses.

Ladies in White members in Havana said they were punched, pinched,
scratched and had their hair pulled by the security agents and
civilians, who also made rude gestures and swore at them.

Photos of the incident showed two of the women being dragged by their
hands and another in a police woman's headlock as the protesters
resisted boarding the buses.

Two of the women, including the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a
political prisoner who died last month after a lengthy hunger strike,
went to a hospital to get treatment and to ask that doctors certify
their bruises.

``There's been a lot of violence today,'' a weary-sounding Alejandrina
García told El Nuevo Herald by phone from Havana. She is the wife of
Diosdado González Marrero, who is serving a 20-year sentence.

It was the second day in a row that government forces harassed the
women, who are staging a weeklong series of street marches and other
events to mark the anniversary of the 2003 jailing of 75 dissidents.
Tuesday's incident involved only verbal aggressions.

Wednesday's crackdown was clearly harsher, however, with García saying
she was shocked by the ``very immodest and very violent manner'' in
which the women were treated by about 100 uniformed and plainclothes
police and Interior Ministry agents, many of them female, and an
estimated 200 civilians.

Security officials hit several of the women with ``technical blows,''
said Ladies in White member Berta Soler, using Cuban jargon for
karate-like blows that are supposed to leave no bruises.

``Some of us were dragged, punched into the buses'' by the security
agents, Soler added via telephone, while the civilians yanked at their
hair, pinched their arms and backs and shouted pro-government slogans
and epithets.

Laura Pollán, a spokesperson for the women's group, went to the hospital
for a possibly fractured finger, Soler said. Reina Luisa Tamayo, the
mother of Zapata Tamayo, suffered from anxiety and went to have her
blood pressure checked.

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