Sunday, Oct. 14, is one-year anniversary of the mysterious death of Laura Pollan, leader of the Damas De Blanco, or "Ladies In White," the most effective opposition group in Cuba.
Members of the group -- the wives, mothers and other family members of Cuban political prisoners -- have vowed to gather to commemorate their fallen leader. And just as forcefully, the Castro regime will try to stop them. A preview of what is planned for the Damas came earlier this week when at least five members of the group were arrested.
Because as it has shown numerous times, nothing scares the Castro dictatorship than a bunch of women carrying flowers who have the gumption to demand real change for their country.
The Cuban authorities must allow a group of local activists known as the Ladies in White to commemorate freely the first anniversary of the death of their leader Laura Pollán on 14 October in Havana, Amnesty International said today.
Laura Pollán died of cardio-respiratory arrest on 14 October 2011.
The activists – who will be travelling from across the country - plan to attend mass at the Church of Santa Rita in Havana and carry out a silent march.
“Given the Cuban authorities’ shameful record when it comes to the treatment of human rights activists, we are concerned for the safety of the Ladies in White as they commemorate the anniversary of the death of one of their members,” said Javier Zúñiga Mejía Borja, Special Advisor for Regional Programmes at Amnesty International.
“Our request is simple: the Cuban authorities must ensure that the Ladies in White and other activists in the country can express themselves freely.”
Members of the Ladies in White have been subjected to a permanent campaign of intimidation, harassment and short term detentions to stop them from peacefully campaigning for the release of political prisoners and greater civil and political freedoms in Cuba.
On 20 September around 50 members of the group were arrested as they travelled to Havana to participate in activities to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Mercy (Virgen de la Merced) and in memory of late political activists.
They were held for several days before being released without charge. Various members of the Ladies in White based in the capital also received intimidating notes aimed at discouraging them from taking part in activities.
On 17 March, 18 Ladies in White were arrested during a peaceful demonstration on the ninth anniversary of a crackdown on dissidence which led to the imprisonment of 75 government critics.
All were released except for Niurka Luque Álvarez, who was released on 5 October pending trial on charges of “violence or intimidation” against a state official (“atentado”).
On 18 March, Lady in White Sonia Garro Alfonso, and her husband, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González, were detained at their home in Havana when around 50 police forced their way into the house and fired rubber bullets at them. They remain in prison without charge.
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