Friday, June 25, 2010

Release of Cuban prisoner of conscience is long overdue - Amnesty International

Release of Cuban prisoner of conscience is long overdue
24 June 2010

The release of a Cuban prisoner of conscience who spent almost a year in
pre-trial detention at a maximum security prison after organizing
protests critical of the government is long overdue, Amnesty
International has said.

Darsi Ferrer was convicted on Tuesday on spurious charges of receiving
illegally obtained goods and "violence or intimidation against a state

He was sentenced to one year in jail and three months' "correctional
work" outside the prison. As he had already been imprisoned for almost a
year, he was immediately released.

"We are very pleased that Darsi Ferrer was released the same day of his
trial and is back with his family, but he was detained on trumped up
criminal charges and in truth he should never have been detained in the
first place" said Kerrie Howard, Amnesty International's Americas deputy

â??Though he has been released, Darsi Ferrer's sentence still
constitutes punishment for criticising the government system and is a
powerful message to any Cuban participating in dissenting activities and
wishing to express opinions contrary to the government systemâ??.

40-year-old Darsi Ferrer, Director of the Juan Bruno Zayas Health and
Human Rights Centre in Havana, was detained on 21 July 2009. He was held
at a maximum security prison in the capital intended for inmates
convicted of violent crimes. Ordinarily, the crimes of which he was
accused would be bailed awaiting trial. However, Darsi Ferrer was
refused bail four times.

In July 2009, Darsi Ferrer attempted to organize a march demonstrating
against repression in Cuba. A few hours before the march started, Darsi
Ferrer and his wife Yusnaimy Jorge Soca were detained by state security
officials and police officers.

Darsi Ferrer was handcuffed and beaten by more than eight police
officers. He and Yusnaimy were released without charge a few hours later.

When they arrived home, they noticed that two bags of cement, some iron
girders and two window frames, which had been on their property for a
few months, were missing. According to neighbours, police officers had
confiscated them.

On 21 July, four police officers took Darsi Ferrer in for questioning
about the materials. Instead, he was detained and driven to a maximum
security prison on the outskirts of Havana.

Darsi Ferrer has previously been detained and prevented from leading and
participating in human rights events. Many Cuban dissidents face
arbitrary detention and harassment by the authorities in order to
prevent them participating in public events and activities critical of
the government.

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