Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ladies in White Founder Remembered

Ladies in White Founder Remembered

For Immediate Release: October 17, 2011

Washington, DC – Human Rights First today praised the courageous
leadership of Laura Pollán, founder of Cuba's Ladies in White, or las
Damas de Blanco, who passed away on October 14. Pollán founded the
organization following the Cuban government's 2003 arrests of 75 human
rights activists, independent journalists and librarians who were then
summarily tried and sentenced to terms of up to 28 years in prison. The
Ladies in White is made up of wives, daughters, and relatives of these
political prisoners.

"Laura Pollán's silent protests spoke volumes about the injustices of
the Castro regime," said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa
Massimino. "She was a powerful and eloquent symbol of the quest for
peaceful, democratic change in Cuba. We are saddened by her death, but
we continue to be inspired by her life and by the Ladies in White. We
pledge to champion justice and freedom for all who, like Laura,
persevere in the face of persistent threats, insults, and government
attempts to silence their work."

Human Rights First honored the Ladies in White during its 2006 human
rights awards dinner for their persistent and peaceful demands that the
Cuban government respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Every
Sunday, dressed in white, the women meet at mass in the Santa Rita
church and then walk down Fifth Avenue in Havana in silent protest of
the unjust incarceration of their relatives. Since the organization was
founded, the Cuban government has tried to force them to abandon their
protests, but the Ladies in White have remained unrelenting in seeking
the unconditional release of all political prisoners.


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