Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cuban dissidents

Human Rights First is campaigning on behalf of imprisoned Cuban democracy campaigners:

In March 2003, 75 human rights advocates, independent journalists and librarians were arrested, tried, and sentenced to up to 28 years in prison in the most severe crackdown on peaceful dissent the island has seen in recent years. Many of the imprisoned dissidents were organizers of the Varela Project, a constitutionally-based civic initiative that collected signatures on a petition calling for a referendum on democratic reforms and respect for basic freedoms.

The activists were charged with "disrespect" toward the Revolution, "treason," and "giving information to the enemy." The sentences and evidence strongly indicate that these individuals were wrongfully imprisoned solely for exercising basic rights guaranteed to them in both international and Cuban law. Immediately following the arrests, the international community, including foreign governments, the United Nations, and human rights groups, condemned the arrests as unjust. To date, 16 of the dissidents have been released on medical parole following international pressure; 11 of them currently live in Cuba and could be re-arrested at any time. Four currently reside outside of Cuba, and one, Miguel Valdes Tamayo, passed away on January 10, 2007, in a hospital in Havana.

Of the 59 who remain in prison, several suffer from extremely poor health and their conditions have been both triggered and exacerbated by an unhygienic environment, substandard care and inadequate medical treatment in prison.

No comments: