Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cuba cracks down on activists, journalists

Cuba cracks down on activists, journalists

After a year away, Cuba returns to the list of countries imprisoning
Alex Pearlman
December 11, 2012 13:56

Human rights defenders, political dissidents and journalists have been
threatened, beaten and arbitrarily imprisoned in Cuba recently, and the
widespread government crackdown continued on International Human Rights
Day yesterday.

On the 64th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
over 100 activists were detained and up to 150 others were put under
house arrest, including members of the Ladies in White, women who
campaign for the release of relatives imprisoned by the government,
reports the Miami Herald.

Protesters were harassed by police in Havana and detained for hours
after staging rallies and marching outside two churches, one in Havana,
and one in the eastern town of El Cobre.

The State Department issued a statement Monday saying the US was "deeply
concerned" about the Cuban government's actions.

"We call on the Cuban government to end the increasingly common practice
of arbitrary and extra-judicial detentions, and we look forward to the
day when all Cubans can freely express their ideas, assemble freely and
express their opinions peacefully," said State Dept. spokesperson
Victoria Nuland, according to AFP.

More from GlobalPost: Cuba: When bureaucrats attack

Cuba has been increasingly harsh on activists and journalists. This year
alone has seen over 5,600 cases of detention or imprisonment, according
to rights advocacy group the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and
National Reconciliation.

Most notably, Cuban journalist Calixto Martinez Arias, who reported on a
2009 cholera outbreak and in September wrote about shipments of medicine
expiring, was imprisoned in September and has been on a hunger strike
since November.

Martinez Arias is being held in solitary confinement and spoke with his
news agency, the independent Centro de Información Hablemos Press about
the inhumane conditions in Cuban prisons, which the Committee to Protect
Journalists recorded and posted on their blog [in Spanish].

According to, another political prisoner, Alexander Roberto
Fernández Rico, informed Martínez Arias' news agency in November that he
"was being held naked in a 'punishment cell' and being given only a
liter of water per day."

Cuba reappeared on the CPJ's list of countries that imprison journalists
this year after a year off it, one of the only countries in the Americas
to still regularly appear.

However, political dissidents see significant, on-going brutality by
secret police and plain clothes officers, according to the Cuban
Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation

More from GlobalPost: With new travel rules, most Cubans are free to go.
Will they return?

"Recent years have seen a growing trend toward police violence during
detentions, despite the dissidents' entirely peaceful behavior," the
commission said in its monthly report in November.

The commissions's leader, Elizardo Sanchez, a leading opposition figure,
reported similar treatment to Time magazine and said he was personally
attacked in Havana, and another activist, Guillermo Farinas, was
allegedly set up on by police weilding wooden sticks.

In a letter to Cuban Interior Minister Abeladro Colome and the
international press, Sanchez complained about the situation, saying
"Arbitrary arrests, physical aggression, threats and humiliations
against peaceful citizens are counterproductive to the necessary
alternative that is a national dialogue."

No comments:

Post a Comment