"As the country gears up for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, the Cuban authorities must be held to account for their continuous and escalating violations of religious freedom."

Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)

March 4, 2012

On February 28, 2012 Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) a Christian organization working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice, issued a press release denouncing the escalating violations of religious freedoms, citing the case of the Lady in White, Caridad Caballero Batista in the Eastern city of Holguin:'`

"Over the past two months and in the run up to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the island next month, CSW has seen a sharp increase in cases of religious freedom violations in Cuba. CSW has received reports each Sunday since the beginning of the year that across the country members of the Ladies in White group, the majority of whom are Roman Catholic, are being prevented by state security agents from attending religious services, or are severely harassed when they attempt to do so."

The week of February 27 March 4, 2012 in Cuba was characterized by the same systematic brutal repression against men and women, human rights defenders who peacefully defend fundamental freedoms in the island. As these activists attempt to assemble, protest or go to Mass they are attacked by Cuban authorities and pro-government mobs with stones, clubs and even machetes.

Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia denounced that the political police has given orders to rip off and tear up any T-shirt or poster that says UMPACU ( Union Patriotica de Cuba) the initials identifying a coalition of human rights groups in Eastern Cuba or any other slogan or motto that authorities consider "offensive".

The ex political prisoner of conscience Angel Moya, who was confined for 24 hours in a prison cell where he was subjected to cruel treatment, denounced that these systematic short term confinements in such inhumane conditions are used to torture the activists in order to force them to stop their human rights activities

State Security agents in Havana warned the Ladies in White that they will not allow that any group of women dressed in white walk together through any street of the capital city, no matter the motive. In Placetas, central Cuba, the arrest of Yris Perez Aguilera, leader of the Rosa Parks Femenine Movement is significant in that a police official removed her pants inside a patrol car and threatened to sexually assault her.

On March 1, 2012, more than 700 Cuban activists sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI warning the pontiff that his visit could provide the wrong message to the regime to continue the present violent repression against those who peacefully defend civil liberties in the island: http://media.elnuevoherald.com/smedia/2012/03/01/16/52/1mWFwo.So.84.pdf (in Spanish)

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 who has described his son's condition as "very delicate and serious" was denied access to his son this week but reported that a priest named Mario called the family on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 to inform them that Cardinal Jaime Ortega had gone to the hospital of the Combinado del Este Prison, following a meeting with Cuban authorities, and met with Ernesto Borges for more than an hour. The contents of the conversation were not disclosed. Raul Borges is demanding that his son be transferred to a regular hospital and 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."We are going to go to the prison every day to demand to see him, because we don't want to see him only after he is dead."

Copy of Ernesto Borges's sentencehttp://pedazosdelaisla.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/sentencia-de-ernesto-borges1.pdf

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.

The following are some of the human rights violations reported from Cuba during the week of February 27 March 4, 2012:

February 27, 2012  Independent journalist Sayli Navarro reported from the central province of Matanzas that numerous activists were confined inside their homes that were surrounded by combined forces of State Security, Rapid Response Brigades and the National Revolutionary Police since 2:00 a.m. Other human rights defenders were physically arrested in the towns of Perico and Colon to prevent a meeting of the human rights group, "Partido por la Democracia Pedro Luis Boitel" that was going to be held in the house of the expolitical prisoner of conscience, Felix Navarro in the town of Perico. The arrests were violent as described by Juan Francisco Rangel: "The agent Alexander Guerra pushed me against the roof of the patrol car and hit my head". Among those activists who were arrested were: Angel Moya, Emilio Bringas (85 years old),Juan Francisco Rangel, Lázaro Díaz, Nelson Ruíz, Caridad Burunate, Carlos Olivera, Zoilo Delgado. Ivan Hernandez Carrillo sent a photo via twitter of the repressors around his home: http://pic.twitter.com/Qle1FbBHEx political prisoner of conscienceAngel Moya described where he remained arrested for around 24 hours: "In that (police) Unit, I was confined to a dark cell, without water, without my belongings, without a mattress, and completely infested with mosquitoes and without being allowed access to a phone to inform my relatives of my situation".

Ramon Bolaños Martin reported that Lady in White, Karina Quintana Hernandez was summoned to appear at 3:00 p.m. before a Police Unit of the Antonio Mella Municipality with the objective of preventing her assistance to Mass on Sundays and, particularly of trying to force her to stop being a member of the Ladies in White.

February 28, 2012  The activist Dany Lopez de Moya continued under arrest in Palma Soriano since 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 25, 2012 when he was brutally beaten by the police for wearing a T-shirt that said: "BOITEL, ZAPATA , WILMAN LIVE" and UMPACU . Activists reported they had information that he was vomiting blood as a result of the blows he received and was denied medical attention. Further information of this case will follow.

Rogelio Tabio Lopez reported that paramilitary forces carried out an act of repudiation in the Eastern city of Guantanamoagainst the headquarters of the human rights group "Movimiento Resistencia y Democracia" where activists were holding a meeting. Tabio Lopez also denounced that In the town of Caimanera in the province of Guantanamo, a paramilitary mob carrying machetes and clubs attacked and wounded human rights defenders.

Act of repudiation against the house of the Lady in White Karina Quintana, her husband, Ramon Bolaños Martin and their three children who were terrrorized by the eggs thrown against the front of the house. Bolaños reported that it was all orchestrated by the members of the Communist Party and the political police in Palma Soriano.

March 1, 2012  A violent arrest was carried out against the women, members of the Rosa Parks Femenine Movement in the central city of Placetas who were attacked as they were protesting before the Municipal Headquarters of the Cuban Communist Party. Yris Perez Aguilera was beaten and arrested by an officer, Yuniel Monteagudo, who pulled down her pants inside the patrol car and who threatened to rape her. The women remained under arrest, subjected to cruel and degrading treatment in prison cells until Saturday, March 3rd.

In Havana, human rights defenders, members of the secretariat of the 30th of November Democratic Party, were arrested when they were carrying out a peaceful protest at the Jose Marti Civic Plaza.

The wife of human rights defender,Hugo Damian Prieto, reported from Havana that her husband was arrested in their home in Havana, located at: Calle 89 #21410, entre 214 y 216 in the suburb of La Lisa.

March 2, 2012  Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, a coordinator of UMPACU reported from the Eastern city of Contramaestre that his home was attacked by what he called "a hail of stones".

In Guantanamo, the home of the human rights defenders, Rogelio Tabio Lopez, his wife, Rosaida Ramirez Matos and their son Rogelio Tabio Ramirez was subjected to a search led by State Security and local police forces that began at 9:30 in the morning and lasted until 3 p.m. Both Rogelio and his son were beaten and arrested. The Lady in White Rosaida was detained and released. She denounce on Sunday, March 4 that her husband and son still remain under arrest at an undisclosed location and that she is unaware of the severity of their injuries caused by the beatings they suffered.

Cuban political prisoners Andry Frometa Cuenca, Leonardo Cantillo Galvan and Leoncio Rodriguez Ponce carried out a hunger strike in the Prison of Guantanamo in Eastern Cuba on February 23, 2012 to honor the memory of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and demand that the regime honor the announced pardon of prisoners that has yet to be met. Dozens of common prisoners joined in the hunger strike. Mareycy Columbie, wife of Frometa denounced that her hsuband was beaten and dragged to a women's prison on February 26 without clothes and confined in inhumane conditions and that authorities will not give her any further information. Hayde Galvan, mother of Cantillo is being denied information concerning the whereabouts of her son and his physical conditions.

March 3, 2012  In Eastern Cuba the following Ladies in White were arrested: In the town of Banes: Miladis Pinales and Marta Diaz Rondon. Pinales was released but the whereabouts of Diaz Rondon were unknown. In Holguin: Gertrudis Ojeda andCaridad Caballero.

March 4, 2012  On Sunday March 4, a total of 117 Ladies in White atended Mass throughout Cuba. Around 20 women were reported as detained and prevented from reaching their respective temples.

In Havana, Minardo Ramos Salgado, an independent union leader, was subjected to a short term arrest and threatened not to hold or participate in any meetings.

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 activist couple Yasmin Conyedo andYusmani Alvarez, Yris Perez Aguilera and with the continued physical and mental harassment against members of theLadies 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 Blog:www.coalitionofcubanamericanwomen.blogspot.com
Facebook Page: Coalition of Cuban-American Women
Twitter: @COCAW1

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Command Center to add comments!

Join Command Center