The Coalition of Cuban American Women presents an invaluable roundup of recent repression in Cuba:
The events that took place in Cuba during the week of February 20-26, 2012 were determined by two dates that involved three events in Cuban history. On February 23, 2010, the Cuban political prisoner of conscience, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a humble man 42 years old, who was committed to the defense of human rights, died under the custody of the Cuban state following a hunger strike of more than 80 days demanding prison rights. On February 24, 1895, the Cuban War of Independence from Spain began under the leadership of the Cuban patriot Jose Marti and is considered an official holiday by all Cubans. On that same day but in the year 1996, three Americans and one U.S. resident: Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales were on a rescue mission with the humanitarian organization “Brothers to the Rescue” when two Cuban MIGs shot down their unarmed civilian aircraft over international waters.
As Cuban human rights defenders throughout the island tried to carry out peaceful commemorative acts to honor these dates of great significance, they faced a climate of political repression since the beginning of the week on Monday, February 20 by way of threats, intimidations, beatings and insults; police citations; police surveillance; short term arbitrary violent arrests; mob attacks; barricades to their homes; homes stoned by minors under orders of Cuban authorities; kidnappings of activists whose whereabouts were unknown for several days, etc. Particular targets of arbitrary arrests and disappearances by the political police were the Ladies in White who suffered an “act of repudiation” outside of their headquarters in Havana. Both Amnesty International and the Organization Against Torture issued urgent alerts concerning the arbitrary violent arrest in Havana of the ex-political prisoner of conscience and leader of UMPACU (Union Patriotica de Cuba) in Eastern Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia Amnesty
The family of Wilman Villar Mendoza, as well as any activist, who pays homage to the dead human rights defender at the cemetery in the Eastern city of Contramaestre, is subject to acts of harassment. Members of prodemocracy groups have been stoned while visiting Wilman’s tomb.
The Cuban political prisoner Ernesto Borges, who’s served 14 years of a 30 year prison sentence for espionage, has been on a hunger strike since February 10, 2012 demanding to be released under parole. His father, Raul Borges saw him during a prison visit at the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana in very serious physical condition, extremely thin and suffering from arrhythmia. He denounced that though his son is being kept in an isolation cell suffering cruel and ill treatment, he is firm and determined to continue his hunger strike. Raul Borges fears that Cuban authorities want to do the same thing to Ernesto as they did to Orlando Zapata Tamayo and makes an urgent appeal to the world on behalf of his son.
Copy of Ernesto Borges’s sentence: http://pedazosdelaisla.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/sentencia-de-ernesto-borges1.pdf
Three artists who were planning to carry out a public “performance” in Havana were many Cuban youth gather to protest the fact that the regime bans their presentations were subjected to violent arrests and short term detentions. The punk rocker Gorki Aguila, Danilo Maldonado known as “El Sexto” and Ismael de Diego were all violently detained on Saturday, February 25 and released the following day.
Yasmin Conyedo and her husband, Yusmani Alvarez both remain under arrest since January 8, 2012 in the central city of Santa Clara. Yasmin Conyedo is an independent journalist of the group, United Antitotalitarian Front and a Lady in White. Her husband, Yusmani Alvarez is an activist of the Young Democratic League of Las Villas. They are both falsely accused of attacking the home of a communist party official in their hometown of Villaclara who had initially subjected the couple’s home to a pro government mob attack the same day of the arrest. Yasmin was transferred to the Prison of Guamajal and Yusmani to the Prison of La Pendiente on January 16, 2012.
FEBRUARY 20, 2012 – In Havana, Ivonne Malleza Galano, her husband Ignacio Martinez Montero andMayra Morejon were arbitrarily arrested at 11 a.m. and taken to an unknown location.
In the city of Colon, province of Matanzas, Lady in White, Caridad Burunate and activist Lazaro Diaz Sanchezreceived police citations and had their fingerprints taken. Both refused to sign an “act of admonishing.”
Human rights defender, Ramon Bolaños Martin reported that his house was stoned by minors who were under the direction of the political police and State Security. He made the Cuban regime responsible for the well-being of his own children in the house as well as the safety of those Cuban youngsters being used to vandalize his home.
Twelve members of the Union Patriotica de Cuba (UMPACU) were still under arrest since the weekend.
FEBRUARY 21, 2012 –
The ex-political prisoner of conscience, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, was violently arrested in the suburb of El Vedado in Havana after a meeting with several activists at the house of Hector Palacio Ruiz. Ferrer Garcia declared that during his arrest “they kicked me, beat me, twisted my arms and shoved me against the wall in an attempt to force me to put my hands behind my back to be handcuffed.” The leader of UMPACU was released on Friday, February 24.
Sara Marta Fonseca denounced that Rodolfo Ramirez Cardoso and a the musical duo of “El Primario” and“Julito”, who sing protest songs against the Cuban regime were harassed in Santiago de Las Vegas, Havana.
In the Eastern province of Holguin, State Security and police agents are systematically harassing members of the peaceful human rights groups in that region as well as any of its sympathizers. Ramon Miguel Aguilera reported the ongoing repression against him and his family in the municipality of Calixto Garcia, in Holguin province.
FEBRUARY 22, 2012 - Lady in White Yelena Garces who is also a delegate of FLAMUR, was arrested in the Eastern city of Bayamo.
Ten members of UMPACU were arrested in Eastern Cuba making it a total of 22 human rights defenders of this organization arbitrarily detained since Sunday, February 19, 2012. Numerous activists were protesting the arbitrary arrest and disappearance of other colleagues and Ladies in White in front of police units. The following were detained in front of the police unit in Palma Soriano: Miguel Rafael Cabrera, Rudisan Ramirez Rodriguez, Ivan Brismeranes? Hernandez, Alexander Aldana Batista, Jorge Cervantes Garcia, Mayelin la O Montero, Julio Cesar Santiesteban with their children Amanda Montalvo la O who is 8 years old, 12 year old, Jose Angel Sardiñas Figueredo, and 3 year old, Ileana Cervantes. Others activists arrested: Dany Lopez de Moya, Osmani Cespedes Napoles, Juan Humberto Rodriguez Gonzalez, Sergio Lescay Despaigne, Victor Campa Alemenares, Angel Luis Campa Almenares, Pedro Campa Almenares, Jose Batista Falcon, and Eliesei Elizabal Rodriguez.
State Security forces, police officers and pro government mobs that were classified by activists as “delinquents”, repressed the peaceful commemorative acts carried out by human rights defenders in Santa Cruz del Sur, Camaguey(central Cuba) on February 24, 2012, identified as “Resistance Day” by human rights defenders.
Berta Soler described in a recorded message on February 22 of the repression that preceded the act of remembrance that the Ladies in White had prepared for Orlando Zapata, a political prisoner who died under the custody of the Cuban State in 2010, following a prolonged hunger strike: http://hablalosinmiedo.blogspot.com/#!/2012/02/berta-soler-denuncia-asedio-la-sede-de.html
FEBRUARY 23, 2012 – The Ladies in White, Claribel Rodriguez Morales and Sandra Guerra, disappeared on their way to Havana from Eastern Cuba. The human rights defender, Virgilio Mantilla Arango was also reported missing in the central city of Camaguey.
Delmides Fidalgo Lopez of the Eastern Democratic Alliance was brutally beaten by several State Security agents who broke his glasses. He was arrested and released later in the day.
Luis Felipe Rojas denounced that numerous homes in his hometown of San German in Eastern Cuba were surrounded by uniformed soldiers, some of whom were armed, and by plain clothes agents. Rojas’s home was surrounded as were the homes of Elieser Palma Pupo and Jose Antonio Triguero Mullet.
Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez, leader of the National Front of Civic Resistance and Disobedience Orlando Zapata Tamayo was violently arrested alongside five other activists (among them Yaimara Reyes and Yaite Cruz) in the central city of Placetas when they were carrying out a peaceful protest.
In Havana, a pro-government mob made of some 200 people, most of them students, surrounded the headquarters of the “Ladies in White, Laura Pollan”, shouting slogans and insults through megaphones at the women inside the home who were paying tribute to Orlando Zapata Tamayo on the second anniversary of his death. As the Ladies in White read from the writings by Zapata Tamayo, the crowd outside blocked the entrance to the house screaming for hours:“Down with the Worms!, “Mercenaries!”, “Long Live Raul!”.
Lady in White, Blanca Hernandez was arbitrarily arrested in Havana to prevent her participation in the act on behalf of Orlando Zapata at the Ladies in White headquarters.
FEBRUARY 24, 2012 – A U.S. Congressional delegation of around 10 legislators led by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Richard Shelby (R-Al) met for almost one hour with several representatives of independent groups, ex-political prisoners as well as human rights defenders such as Angel Moya and his wife, the Lady in White Berta Soler. Also present were; Dagoberto Valdes, Oswaldo Paya, Antonio Rodiles and Oscar Biscet with his wife. The Cubans informed the U.S. delegation that “the island’s main problem is its own government and that respect for human rights must be the first item on the table for any Cuba-U.S. negotiations.” They reiterated the need for fundamental freedoms in the island and told them of the escalating repression carried out by a regime that has as its only objective to stay in power.
FEBRUARY 26, 2012 - In Havana, Sara Marta Fonseca and several Ladies in White were subjected to short term arrests. Their families were not informed of their whereabouts.
Ex-prisoner of conscience, Hector Maseda reported that a total of 19 Ladies in White and 6 independent journalists were placed under arrest following the attendance to Mass of some 40 women at the Church of Santa Rita in Havana.
Marcos Antonio Molina reported from Holguin that Lady in White, Adisnidia Cruz Segredo was arrested by four State Security Agents at the door of her home. Caridad Caballero and her husband Esteban Sandes were also subjected to arbitrary arrests when they were on their way to church.
Raul Risco of the Democratic Alliance in Pinar del Rio reported from this Western city that he and other activists, were carrying out a hunger strike in solidarity with those colleagues arrested. The hunger strikers were inside the home ofConrado Rodríguez Suárez” at: Sol # 89, between San Juan and Galiano where they are surrounded by paramilitary groups.
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia reported that 8 members of UMPACU continue under arrest. Five of them have declared themselves on hunger strike protesting their arbitrary detention.
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 the cases of the political prisoner Ernesto Borges, the family of Wilman Villar Mendoza, the activist couple Yasmin Conyedo and Yusmani Alvarez and with the continued physical and mental harassment against 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.
FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia + 5353631267 / / Caridad Caballero Batista + 52629749 / Raul Risco Perez + 5348763910 / Sara Marta Fonseca + 5353379011 / Berta Soler al +5352906820 / Yris T. Perez Aguilera + 5352731656