By Ryan T. Elliott
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America/Oceania
HAVANA, Cuba – The Ladies in White are counted among the most determined groups battling against human rights abuses in Cuba. The Ladies in White work towards the release of hundreds, if not thousands, of political prisoners. Earlier this week, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation released a report that focused on the beatings, violence and kidnappings the Ladies in White suffered from authorities in August.
On August 7, 2011, the Ladies in White suffered a series of violent attacks during peaceful demonstrations in the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Palmarito de Cauto, which are located in the Eastern province of Cuba. Comprised largely of Cuban women who are family members or supporters of Cuban political prisoners, the group was battered, and in some cases, pushed into buses headed for unknown destinations by Government-organized agents.
In the wake of these violent attacks, it was discovered that six activists were hospitalized with fractures, contusions, and wounds that required sutures. Meanwhile, the political police ordered doctors not to supply victims with medical certificates. This was an interesting and clever maneuver on the part of the political police, considering that medical certificates are required in order to accuse the Cuban authorities of any wrongdoing.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (“CCHRN”)found that police violence against peaceful dissidents (persons who happen to hold or voice a different belief) was at its highest in recent years. The report found that police violence against peaceful dissidents (persons who happen to hold or voice a different belief) was at its highest in recent years. In fact, the panel found at least 2,221 arrests that were made for political reasons. This is an average of 278 arrests per month, a number that represents a hundred percent increase from the same period last year.
While the commission said there is little doubt that the crackdown on pro-democracy groups was approved at the highest level of government, the Catholic Church, which often acts as a go-between for dissidents and Cuban authorities, said it had received assurances that there was no national policy to target opposition groups. Nevertheless, the commission warned that the figures in its report suggest a serious deterioration of civil and political rights in Cuba. The commission stated that it believes that this represents a trend, which is likely to continue unless the Cuban government introduces new reforms or ratifies and complies with the U.N. human rights pacts.
The CCDHRN called on foreign governments and international human rights groups to show “solidarity” with Cuban dissidents and urge Havana to end its controlling and oppressive practices.
For more information, please see:
Emirates 247 – Cuban crackdown ordered from the top — September 7, 2011
Christian Post – Catholic Church in Cuba Condemns Violence Against Ladies in White — September 6, 2011
Miami Herald – Cuba denies it is targeting dissidents — September 6, 2011
Fox News – Cuba dissidents complain of escalating repression — September 6, 2011
Cuba Democracy & Life – Activists with Fractures are Hospitalized after Brutal Attack — August 7, 2011