“Cuban dissidents accused authorities Monday of a wave of arrests to prevent them from gathering to mark International Human Rights Day,” AP reports:
More than 100 government opponents were briefly detained and promptly sent back to their homes, human rights monitor Elizardo Sanchez said.
‘‘The saving grace is that (the arrests) are of short duration,’’ said Sanchez, who heads the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
A leader of the group known as the Ladies in White said they were rounded up Sunday when they held their weekly protest march outside a Havana church.
‘‘They told us we were being provocative,’’ Alejandrina Garcia said by phone.
The Obama administration said that it was “deeply concerned by the Cuban Government’s repeated use of arbitrary detention and violence to silence critics, disrupt peaceful assembly, and intimidate independent civil society.”
We understand that across Cuba, 94 members of the peaceful pro-democracy group – The Ladies in White – were reportedly beaten and detained on December 9. Just ahead of Human Rights Day, the women had used their weekly gathering, church attendance, and peaceful march to focus attention on continued human rights abuses in Cuba.
“We call on the Cuban Government to end the increasingly common practice of arbitrary and extrajudicial detentions, and we look forward to the day when all Cubans can freely express their ideas, assemble freely, and express their opinions peacefully,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
The Ladies in White group won the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize in 2005, was formed by the wives and relatives of jailed political prisoners.
“Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent,” according to Human Rights Watch. “Raúl Castro’s government continued to enforce political conformity using short-term detentions, beatings, public acts of repudiation, forced exile, and travel restrictions.”
Cuba’s efforts to small-scale private enterprise and attract foreign investment are floundering due to the government’s innate authoritarianism, say analysts.
Swept up in a recent wave of arrests in Cuba, former political prisoner of conscience Iván Hernández features in a must-see film (above) shot undercover by Al Jazeera, using hidden cameras to portray the experience of Berta Soler, Angel Moya, Antonio Rodiles, Elizardo Sanchez and other leading dissidents.
The film features moving footage from the funeral of Oswaldo Paya and shocking scenes of police attacks on the mourners.