Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cuban authorities detain opposition activists

16 September 2011 Last updated at 19:34 GMT

Cuban authorities detain opposition activists

Guillermo Farinas (file image) Mr Farinas has staged several hunger
strikes to win the release of jailed dissidents

The Cuban authorities detained more than 30 dissidents overnight to stop
them organising a demonstration, a human rights group has said.

Among those held was the prominent opposition activist, Guillermo
Farinas, who has since been released.

The detentions happened in and around the central city of Santa Clara.

Opposition groups says the communist authorities have stepped up their
harassment of dissidents in recent months.

The Cuban government has accused opposition activists of trying to cause
disorder to justify aggression by the US.

Mr Farinas said he and others had been planning to hold a march in Santa
Clara to demand "the end of the crackdown against opposition activists
and the liberation of all political prisoners".

At least seven other dissidents detained at the same time have also been
freed and the rest were expected to be released soon, the unofficial
Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) said.

Short-term detentions were part of a sustained government campaign of
intimidation and harassment of pro-democracy activists, CCDHRN President
Elizardo Sanchez told the Associated Press.

The authorities were using "minimal political repression; they are
simply neutralising initiatives, nothing more," he said.

Following an agreement with the Catholic Church, Cuban President Raul
Castro has released dozens of political prisoners over the past year,
with many going into exile in Spain.

But earlier this month the Church said harassment and intimidation of
opposition activists by government supporters had continued.

Cuban authorities generally refer to dissidents as mercenaries paid by
the US to destabilise the communist system.

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