Monday, September 26, 2011

Pro Government Mob beats, bites, insults Ladies in White in Havana

September 25, 2011

On Saturday, September 24, 2011, an organized pro government mob of around 300 people, alongside State Security agents with loudspeakers that resonated speeches by Fidel Castro, and who were screaming slogans, insults, obscenities, and carrying flags and posters, surrounded the home of one of the representatives of the peaceful human rights group of women known as the “Ladies in White”. Some thirty five women from numerous provinces were gathered at Calle Neptuno #963, entre Aramburen y Hospital in Havana, home of Laura Pollán, to make their usual once a year pilgrimage by foot to attend mass at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy, patron saint of all prisoners.

The women were brutally assaulted by plainclothes State Security agents when they tried to leave the house at 4:00 p.m. The mob pounced on them, hitting, twisting their arms, and even biting the women. The crowd kept screaming “they will not go through” (no pasarán) and “machete, they are only a few” (machete que son poquitas), implying that the women would never get through the crowd, and that, because the women were only a few, they were easy prey, implying brutal violence, at the hands of the mob.

Thirteen other Ladies in White, including Berta Soler in Havana, left from another location they had previously agreed on and were able to circumvent State Security agents and reach the Church of Our Lady of Mercy to attend mass.

Two supporters of the Ladies in White, Liudmila Rodriguez and Yanelis Delenka Despaigne, were taken down from the bus they were riding by State Security agents who took their personal documents to prevent them from continuing their journey on to Havana from Eastern Cuba. Doraysa Correoso and Annia Alegre also from Eastern Cuba, disguised themselves as beggars to be able to reach the house of Laura Pollan in Havana. Throughout the island there were activists, including Ladies in White, who were threatened and kept under house arrest to prevent their assistance to the mass at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy.

Numerous human rights activists also suffered short term arrests on Saturday, September 24, 2011. Among them were: human rights defenders Aimee Garces and Tania Montoya who were detained as they left Laura Pollan’s home to make their return trip back to their homes in Eastern Cuba and released after authorities took away all their money. In Havana, activist Eriberto Liranza, leader of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy was arrested, beaten and released, and so were Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez and his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera in Placetas. Manuel Cuesta Morua was detained and prevented from attending an independent cultural event in Havana and released a few hours later.

Sara Marta Fonseca a member of the Pro Human Rights Party Affiliated to the Andrei Sajarov Foundation and spokesperson of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Resistance Front, together with her husband, remain imprisoned since Saturday, accused of "public disorder".

The Coalition of Cuban-American Women will continue to denounce the escalating violence committed by the Cuban regime against peaceful human rights activists and makes an urgent call to the press and to non-governmental organizations dedicated to the defense of human rights worldwide, as well as to women in positions of leadership in religious, political, educational, social, and cultural institutions.

FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA: / Berta Soler + 53 52906820 / Laura Pollan + 53 7 8734165 or + 53 5 2457830/ Tania Montoya +53 53146329

Coalition of Cuban-American Women / Laida A, Carro /

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