July 18, 2011
FROM: The Ladies in White, a movement that since 2003 has demanded the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who are deprived of their freedom by the Cuban government.
REGARDING: An accusation of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment by the Cuban government against the peaceful opposition movement, The Ladies in White.
Last Sunday morning, July 17, 2011, sixteen Ladies in White and Ladies of Support went to the sanctuary of El Cobre, located in the town of the same name in Santiago de Cuba Province, with the objective of participating in a mass.
When the mass concluded and after the women prayed and asked for the release of political prisoners, they got ready to begin a peaceful march through the sidewalks in this town. Upon starting the journey, forces from the so-called Rapid Response Brigade, previously posted in the surrounding areas of the sanctuary and under the direction of agents of Section 21 of State Security, began to throw stones and shout offensive slurs against the dignity of these Cuban women.
Not fully satisfied with this criminal behavior, the officials of Section 21, Department of State Security (S-21-DSE) gave a previously planned order directly to several women to attack the Ladies in White and Ladies in Support.
1. Belkis Cantillo suffered a serious wound to her right arm when she was attacked by a woman who was a member of the mob with a perforated instrument (scissors). It was necessary to suture her wound.
2. Aymee Garces Leyva suffered serious wounds as a result of the beating, which caused a fistula on one of her vertebra.
3. Tania Montoya lost consciousness as a result of the beating. Her clothes were half-torn off of her as well.
On May 1, 2010, the Cuban government agreed with the Catholic Church as its witness (that is, his Imminence Cardinal Jaime Ortega) that the Ladies in White would not be reprimanded by the Rapid Response Brigades, an agreement which was broken on December 9, 2010, when repressive acts began again on the evening of December 10th, the international remembrance of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The socio-economic situation in Cuba continues to deteriorate, and as a consequence, criticism against the government is growing, and as a result, actions by the peaceful, non-violent opposition are growing inside of Cuba as well. Parallel to this increase in opposition, the government is accelerating, perfecting, modernizing, equipping, and increasing its repressive efforts. As a result, we do not rule out increased and escalated repressive efforts by the Cuban government, and for this reason, we call attention to the following:
That during the act of repression against the Ladies in White and the Ladies of Support at the Sanctuary of El Cobre in Santiago de Cuba Province:
a. the repressive mobs used stones, sticks, and perforated cutting instruments against the women
b. Men, who were members of the mob, kicked and beat the women.
Peacefully, we remember that the United Nations, on more than just a few occasions, has condemned violence against women, and Cuba, a member nation of this organization, has a government that promotes violence against them. Specifically, Cuba finances, organizes and directs this violence.
Given from Havana, Cuba
The Ladies in White
Berta Soler (telephone: + 53 52906820)
Laura Pollán (telephone: + 53 8734156)
Information sent from Cuba via internet by Lady in White, Berta Soler, wife of ex-political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya. Translated to English by the Coalition of Cuban-American Women / Tanya S. Wilder firstname.lastname@example.org