Friday, September 16, 2011

Cuban police reportedly detain dissidents

Posted on Friday, 09.16.11

Cuban police reportedly detain dissidents

More than 20 dissidents, who want to stage a protest march from one end
of the island to the other, were reportedly detained by police.
By Juan O. Tamayo

Cuban dissidents say police detained more than 20 people Thursday as
they tried to take part in a novel protest – a proposed march from one
end of the island to the other.

Among those reported detained were Angel Moya, freed this year after
eight years in prison, and Guillermo Fariñas, awarded the prestigious
Sakharov human rights prize last year.

Five dissident women were detained with Fariñas and Moya in the central
city of Santa Clara, according to the dissidents, and two men were
grabbed in Mella, in eastern Santiago province.

Berta Soler, Moya's wife and a spokeswoman for the Ladies in White, said
there was no news from those arrested as of Thursday evening. Such
detentions usually last only a few hours or days, just long enough for
the police to make sure they disrupt any planned protests.

The detentions came as the dissidents mobilized for their latest
anti-government tactic — a march from east to west that would recreate a
famous offensive by Cubans fighting for independence from Spain in the

Police have blocked every attempt, however, keeping some dissidents
under house arrest and detaining others before they reached the march's
starting points — then dropping them off in isolated spots or driving
them home.

The Havana-based Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation reported that it had received word of more than 20
detentions on Thursday in the Santa Clara region alone.

"All the detentions were arbitrary, with the goal of preventing a group
of peaceful [government] opponents from gathering," wrote commission
president Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz.

He added that his panel has received reports of more than 200 such
detentions so far this month — very likely one of the highest totals
since Raúl Castro took the reigns of power from his ailing brother Fidel
in 2006.

José Daniel Ferrer García, a former political prisoner in the eastern
town of Palmarito del Cauto, noted that Thursday's detentions were
connected to the proposed "National March for Freedom, Boitel and Zapata

The march was to have started Sept. 8 in easternmost Guantanamo and
picked up supporters as it moved west toward Havana, he added.

But the plans changed after police from the very first day detained
several dozen dissidents in towns like Guantánamo, Palma Soriano,
Holguín, Bayamo and Las Tunas.

Now dissidents in each town and city are expected to try to stage their
own marches, whenever they can and for as long as they can before police
break them up, Ferrer told El Nuevo Herald.

The marches are to demand the government obey international agreements
on human rights, halt the repression against peaceful dissidents, free
all political prisoners and cancel all laws that limit dissent.

Ferrer also reported that Cuban prosecutors appear to be preparing to
bring to trial four dissidents arrested Sept. 8 after they shouted
anti-government slogans in the city of Santiago.

Ferrer and Moya were among the 52 political prisoners freed over the
past year as part of a Raúl Castro promise to release the last of the 75
dissidents still jailed since a massive crackdown in 2003.

They were among the 12 who chose to stay in Cuba, while the rest went
directly from prison to airplanes that flew them to exile in Spain in
what critics branded as virtual deportations.

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