THREATS, BRUTAL BEATINGS, ARBITRARY ARRESTS, AND HOME RAIDS CONTINUE AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
“I was dragged, and beaten repeatedly over the head, the stomach and breasts, just about everywhere…but they could not silence me … I cried out “down with the dictatorship!…”
Belkis Cantillo, Leader of the Ladies in White in Eastern Cuba
April 2- 8, 2012
On April 2, 2012, just a week after the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba, the regime in the island further escalated the brutal repression it had unleashed before and during the Pope’s visit by violently and arbitrarily arresting, and taking to unknown locations, 43 peaceful human rights defenders in Eastern Cuba where at least three homes were raided. These activists are members of the following pro democracy groups in that region: National Front of Civic Resistance Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the Eastern Democratic Alliance, the Ladies in White Laura Pollan, and the Patriotic Union of Cuba.
Most of these human rights defenders were released on Friday, April 6 but among some of those who still remain under arrest are: Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Dani Lopez de Moya, Adriana Nuñez, Santiago Castellanos, Raumel Vinajera, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria, and Jorge Cervantes.
Amnesty International released an Urgent Action document on April 4 denouncing the acts of repression as “…a clear attempt to crush the emerging peaceful movement in Eastern Cuba”: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/012/2012/en/58fa0ee4-5a4d-416e-b573-efa139b8a72b/amr250122012en.html , while the Organization Against Torture (OMCT) expressed its concern in a press release of April 5, 2012 about the ongoing violence against Cuban activists (see document in attachment in Spanish).
In Palma Soriano, in the suburb of La Concepcion, paramilitary forces broke into the home of human rights defender Raumel Vinajera as well as his mother’s, destroying everything in sight and beating and arresting 23 activists who had gathered to carry out a peaceful march to protest the repression and arbitrary detentions that were taking place in Eastern Cuba. According to Tania Montoya, a Lady in White and the wife of Raumel Vinajera, one of the officers even took out a gun to shoot Vinajera’s brother who had come to the aid of his 65 year old screaming mother who had been pushed down to the floor. Those arrested in Palma Soriano on April 2 were: Ania Alegre Pécora, Adriana Núñez Pascual, Pedro Campa Almenares, Andrés García Almenares, Misael Valdez Díaz, Héctor Félix Labrada Muñoz, Omaidis González Leiva, Dany López de Moya, Darmis Agüero Zaldivar, Arnaldo Losada Igarza, Rulisán Ramírez Rodriguez, Raimundo López Landazuri, Enrique Losada Agüero, Goyres Enrique Galano Oriza, Doraisa Correoso Pozo, Raumel Vianjera Estibe, Yunier Echevarria Izá, Víctor Campa Almenares, Dorislandis Morin Alvarado, Roberto de la Rosa Estrada, Luís Enrique Losada Igarza, Alexis Yanchoi Kuán Jerez, Pedro Daniel Borja Igarza, Julio Cesar Vinajera Reyes, Denis Vinajera Jardines, Froilán Vinajera Estibe.
Also on April 2nd, in the city of Santiago de Cuba, the home of the Lady in White Aurora Martin and her husband Antonio Gonzalez Bordonado was also ransacked by Rapid Response Brigades who broke down the fence in the front of the house; brutally beating all activists who were inside as well as destroying and confiscating personal belongings, papers, books, etc. Tania Montoya declared that a sister of Aurora Martin was beaten so badly that she fainted and that a 3 month old child present was also hurt. The activists arrested in Santiago de Cuba were: Roberto Herrera Terrán, Carlos González Martínez, Antonio González Bordonado, Carlos Martín Calderín, Ovidio Martín Mena, Ovidio Martín Castellanos, Lázaro Mejía Cúrvelo, Alexei Pécora Rabelo, Rolando Cala and Iraida Martín Calderín.
According to Maria del Carmen Hernandez Martinez, her husband, human rights defender Jorge Vazquez Chaviano, is serving a one year and five month sentence in La Pendiente Prison in the province of Santa Clara where he was transferred two days after his arrest on March 27, 2012. Vazquez Chaviano was detained to prevent his assistance to the papal Mass in Havana.
In Havana, the Lady in White, Sonia Garro, who was violently arrested at her home alongside her husband, Ramon Muñoz on March 18, 2012 when they were remembering the 9th anniversary of the Black Spring, was transferred from a Police Unit to the Women’s Prison “El Guatao”, while her husband, Ramon Muñoz, was taken to the Combinado del Este Prison. Neither are formally accused. During their violent arrest, Muñoz was thrown down from the roof of his house by paramilitary forces and his wife was shot with rubber bullets.
Norma NIurka, Lady in White and member of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy in Havana, also arrested on Sunday, March 18, 2012 was transferred from a Police Unit to a Women’s Prison in Havana known as “El Guatao”. She is being held under “provisional detention” and accused of committing “assault”.
Andres Carrion Alvarez, a 40 year old Cuban who cried out “freedom” and “down with communism” at the Pope’s Mass in Santiago de Cuba is still detained since his arrest on March 28, 2012 at the Special Police Unit of Versalles in Santiago de Cuba. Carrion was violently beaten by plain clothes government agents; including a man wearing the Red Cross emblem who used the stretcher to beat him brutally over the head. Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on his behalf on April 4, 2012: https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/013/2012/en/5ce2aace-8d4e-4363-be42-cd8d400d916b/amr250132012en.html
Former political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya Acosta remains under arrest since April 6, 2012. He was detained in the town of Pedro Betancourt, in the province of Matanzas when he was going to visit his mother’s tomb with a group of friends.
Prisoners of conscience arbitrarily detained since January 8, 2012, Yasmin Conyedo and her husband, Yusmani Alvarez were released April 6, 2012.
The Lady in White, Magaly Norvis Otero reported the arrest of 28 activists on April 7 in the Municipality of Pedro Betancourt in the province of Matanzas. The arrests were related to a visit to the tomb of the mother of Angel Moya Acosta.
In Havana, independent journalist Julio Beltran Iglesias was arrested alongside several bloggers, librarians and intellectuals who intended to attend a gathering at the independent Project “Estado de SATS”. The librarian Omayda Padron and her daughter were among those detained, as were the dissidents Juan Antonio Madrazo and Leonardo Calvo.
On Easter Sunday, April 8, dozens of Ladies in White were detained throughout the island to prevent their assistance to Mass. Among the women arrested are: Niurki Rivera Despaigne (Havana), Adis Nidia Cruz (Holguin), and Caridad Caballero Batista (Pedernales),
Independent journalist Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal denounced that, according to Yaquelin Garcia Jaens her husband, the political prisoner Ariel Arzuaga Peña is being harassed by the political police in the Prison of Las Mangas located in Bayamo (Eastern Cuba). Authorities are depriving him of his medication for hypertension, gastritis and chronic faringitis or of any literature and are inciting the common prisoners against him.
The Coalition of Cuban-American Women alerts the international community that the lives of those members of Cuban civil society who are actively and publicly struggling peacefully on behalf of fundamental freedoms are in danger. We are particularly concerned with mental and physical well-being of the following human rights defenders arbitrarily held under arrest: Andres Carrion Alvarez, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, Dani Lopez de Moya, Adriana Nuñez, Santiago Castellanos, Raumel Vinajera, Juan Carlos Vazquez Osoria, Jorge Cervantes, Angel Moya Acosta, Sonia Garro and her husband Ramon Muñoz, Niurka Luque, and the brothers Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Maiquel Lima Cruz, and with the continued physical and mental harassment against all members of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan throughout Cuba. International recognition of the peaceful resistance and solidarity for these human rights defenders is crucial. We make an urgent call on religious, civic, political, and cultural entities and its leaders, as well as to non-governmental human rights organizations worldwide.
Coalition of Cuban-American Women /
Joseito76@aol.com / Laida A.Carro
Facebook Page: Coalition of Cuban-American Women
FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA:
Tania Montoya +535 3146329 / Belkis Cantillo Ramírez – +535 3790-867 / Eriberto Liranza Romero +535 3341682 / Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal + 535 2771487 / Berta Soler + 535 2906820