WIDESPREAD BRUTAL REPRESSION AND IMPUNITY
Following a savage beating and arrest, a human rights defender is suffering the same physical symptoms as the recently deceased Lady in White, Laura Pollan
November 6, 2011
Alcides Rivera Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer Espinosa, two activists on a hunger strike since September 28, 2011, protesting the Cuban regime’s violence against peaceful activists in the island; both admitted respectively, on October 27 and 28, 2011, to the Provincial Hospital Arnaldo Milian in the central city of Santa Clara, were forced out of the medical center by special police forces that had militarized the building. Ferrer Espinosa, was hoisted away on Monday, October 31st to his home in spite of the fact that he was on supplemental oxygen, was shaking due to a high fever, is weak after losing more than 30 lbs. of body weight, and has severe respiratory ailments as well as metabolic acidosis. On November 2,, Alcides Rivera, who was diagnosed with bronchopneumonia and has lost almost 60 lbs, was also forcibly taken out of the hospital. Both Alcides and Rolando declared that they will continue their hunger strike.
On the afternoon of October 31,when Rolando Ferrer was taken out of the hospital by State Security agents, a group of human rights defenders who had gone to the hospital in solidarity with both hunger strikers, were violently arrested: Idania Yanes Contreras, Damaris Moya Portieles, Olga Lilia González Barroso, Alexey Sotolongo Díaz, Enrique Martínez Marín, Orlando Alfonso Martínez, Jorge Ramírez Calderón, René Fernández Quiroga, José Lino Ascencio López, Jorge Alberto Liriano Linares, Yasmín Conledo Riverón, Yusmani Rafael Álvarez Esmori, Yanisbel Valido Pérez, and Víctor Castillo Ortega. The activist, Julio Columbie, who was taking care of Ferrer Espinosa’s in the hospital room was beaten and taken away in a brutal manner. Alcides Rivera Vázquez, son of Alcides Rivera and Zuleika Cepero Méndez, wife of Rolando Ferrer were also taken into custody.
Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez” and his wife, Iris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, of the National Civic Resistance Front were beaten and dragged out of the intensive care unit where they were accompanying Alcides Rivera, as other patients screamed at the agents to stop the mistreatment.
After all pro-democracy activists were taken to the Unidad Provincial de Operaciones (UPO), they were dispersed to different municipalities in the province of Villa Clara and released by November 3rd. Alberto Reyes Morán, Michele Oliva López and Ramón Arboláez Abreu were subjected to short term detention when they appeared at (UPO) to inquire about the wellbeing of their fellow human rights activists. Also, as they were on their way to the Arnaldo Milian Hospital, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, Nosbel Jomarca Deubides, Maidelis González Almeida and Yosmel Martínez Corcho were taken down from a bus in the outskirts of the city of Sagua la Grande and remained detained for a few hours.
On November 1, 2011, when activist Guillermo Fariñas tried to see Alcides Rivera at the hospital, he was brutally arrested and released on Thursday, November 3.
The particular case of the human rights defender and member of the Central Opposition Coalition, Idania Llanes Contreras, wife of Alcides Rivera, is alarming. On Wednesday, following the brutal beating on October 31, and still under custody,Idania developed a high fever and painful joints, began to shiver, to vomit and had a profuse vaginal bleeding. A physician at the detention center who saw her told her she might have dengue, that ” there was a lot of dengue going around.” Once released she required medical assistance at a hospital and following laboratory tests, a doctor told Idania she had an “unkown virus”. Idania was arrested and held in the same prison cell with the activists Yanisbel Valido and Damaris Portieles.
Testimony given by Idania Llanes describing their arrest:
“I was attacked by three policewomen who dealt three blows to my head as I was being dragged by my hair into a vehicle, they were beating me all over my body, specially on my abdomen…I didn’t realize that they had caused a stab wound to my left hand and scratches on my back with a metallic object. We discovered wounds in our bodies caused by sharp instruments. Damaris was thrown to the ground and hit her head so hard she almost passed out. Yanisbel was choked to the point that her face was red, so red…”
In Havana, this Sunday, November 7, 2011, though forty Ladies in White atended mass in the Church of Santa Rita and were able to march through Fifth Avenue with the image of Laura Pollan, at least six women were threatened by the political police to prevent their participation in the mass and the peaceful march. Among them were: Magaly Norvis Otero, Sandra Guerra, Elizabeth Kawooya and Dignora Figueredo.
Also this Sunday in Santiago de Cuba, a priest, several nuns and parishoners interceded on behalf of seven Ladies in White so that the police would not subject them to acts of repudiation and attacks. The women who were taken away by a car provided by nuns at the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba were: Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, Aimee Garcés Leiva, Mari Blanca Ávila Expósito, Oria Casanova Moreno, Adriana Núñez Pascual, Tania Bandera González, and Tania Montoya.
The Coalition of Cuban-American women makes an urgent call to the free world, to the press, to men and women in positions of leadership, demanding a stop to the systematic cruel and inhumane acts committed by the Cuban regime against members of Cuban civil society who defend fundamental freedoms in their own country. The lives of these human rights defenders, particularly of women activists, are in pressing danger.
Coalition of Cuban-American Women / Laida Carro / Joseito76@aol.com
FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA: Alcides Rivera and Rolando Ferrer – Tel. + 53 42218079 /
Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” – + 53 52564369 / Iris T. Aguilera – + 53 52564368
Tania Montoya + 53 53146329