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Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Cuba

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 22 March 2006
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Cuba, 22 March 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cb64f.html [accessed 16 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Sentencing and arbitrary detention of Mr. Oscar Elías Biscet162

On 26 February 2005, Mr. Oscar Elías Biscet, a doctor, founder and president of the Lawton Foundation, an independent human rights organisation in Cuba, was sentenced to three years in prison for having waved a Cuban flag low as a sign of protest against abuses and human rights violations in Cuba. Accused of "insulting and disrespecting the symbols of the homeland", of "public disorder" and "incitement to commit crimes", he was detained in the Combinado del Este prison in Havana.

Since August 2005, although Mr. Oscar Elías Biscet was suffering from hypertension, chronic gastritis and hypercholesterolemia, he was refused the medical treatment he needed, because of his refusal to wear a prison uniform. By the end of 2005, his health condition had aggravated.

Mr. Oscar Elías Biscet had previously been already imprisoned and sentenced several times in the past.

Harassment and detention of members of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights163

Acts of harassment against Mr. Juan Carlos González Leiva

On 6 August 2005, Mr. Juan Carlos González Leiva, president of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights (Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos), was arrested while attending an assembly during which new members of the organisation steering committee were to be elected. He was detained for six hours in the premises of the National Revolutionary Police of Florida in the Camagüey province. Furthermore, about fifty police officers forced the activists to leave the assembly. Mr. Juan Carlos González Leiva was then taken to his home in Ciego de Ávila, where he has been under house arrest since 26 April 2004, following his arrest during a peaceful demonstration in March 2002.

Since 6 August 2005, Mr. Juan Carlos González had been subjected to numerous acts of repression (arrests, detentions, fines, summons, threats, popular trials, surveillance both at his home and of his telephone).

In September, October and November 2005, Mr. González Leiva was, on several occasions, insulted and assaulted by groups of civilians, as well as members of military and paramilitary forces, who gathered in front of his house shouting government instructions.

By the end of 2005, Mr. González Leiva was still prohibited from seeing his family, friends and other activists and could not leave the province where he lives. He was constantly under surveillance and threatened by the State security services.

Ongoing detention of Mr. Virgilio Mantilla Arango, Mrs. Ana Peláez García and Mrs. Odalmis Hernández Márquez

Among the Cuban Foundation members sentenced in April 2004, there were also Mr. Virgilio Mantilla Arango (seven years in prison), Mrs. Ana Peláez García and Mrs. Odalmis Hernández Márquez (three years under house arrest).

By the end of 2005, Mr. Virgilio Mantilla Arango and Mrs. Odalmis Hernández Márquez remained, respectively, detained and under house arrest, the latter being the victim of physical and psychological torture.

As for Mrs. Ana Peláez García, who was still serving her two and half year sentence under house arrest, she was the victim of harassment after refusing to work in a public company. She was also likely to be detained in the Kilo Cinco prison in Camagüey, due to her continued refusal.

Acts of harassment against Mrs. Martha Beatriz Roque164

Since she was released on parole on 22 July 2004, Mrs. Martha Beatriz Roque, a member of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society (Asemblea para la Promoción de la Sociedad Civil) and of the Institute of Independent Economists, was the victim of repeated acts of harassment by security, military and paramilitaries forces, as well as by civilians, who gathered in front of her house shouting government orders and insults.

Arrested on 20 March 2003 during a wave of mass arrests of Cuban human rights defenders between 18 and 26 March 2003, Mrs. Martha Beatriz Roque had been sentenced, along with 33 of the 79 people arrested, on 7 April 2003, to twenty years in prison for "conspiracy".

In addition, by the end of 2005, Mr. Oscar Espinosa Chepe, an independent journalist, and Mr. Marcelo López, a member of the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation (Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional – CCDHRN), sentenced in 2003 under the same circumstances to respectively twenty and fifteen years in prison, remained released on parole, implying that they could be arrested again (they had been released on parole on 29 November 2004 (licencia extrapenal) for health reasons).

Release of several human rights activists / New arrest of Mr. Enrique García Morejón165

Several human rights defenders who had been given heavy sentences on 26 April 2004 were released.

Thus, Mr. Lázaro Iglesias Estrada and Mr. Carlos Brizuela Yera, members of the Camagüey College of Independent Journalists (Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey), sentenced to three years in prison, were respectively released on 1 August 2004 and 3 March 2005. However, by the end of 2005, Mr. Carlos Brizuela continued to be the victim of threats and acts of harassment. He was also facing the risk of being imprisoned again due to the fact that he did not ceased his independent journalist activities. Although there were no concrete accusations against him, he was accused of various common offences.

As for the brothers Messrs. Antonio and Enrique García Morejón, members of the Christian Liberation Movement and supporters of the Varela project,166 sentenced to three years and six months in prison, were released in March 2005. However, they were summoned and threatened on several occasions by the National Revolutionary Police Unit of the Vertientes municipality, Camagüey, which opened an investigation against them, threatening to accuse them of being a "social danger". They also received several threats of arrest "if they continued to promote the independent library and peaceful dissidence work". On 13 December 2005, Mr. Enrique García Morejón was detained in Vertientes municipality, following an arrest warrant issued by the Court of this municipality, on the grounds that he represented a "social danger even before committing an offence". By the end of 2005, Mr. Enrique García Morejón was still detained.

In addition, since 4 May 2005, Mr. Delio Laureano Requeijo Rodriguez, a member of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, who had been sentenced to two and a half years in prison with parole, has been in exile in Miami (USA).


[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

162. See Urgent Appeal CUB 001/1205/OBS 121.

163. See Annual Report 2004 and Urgent Appeal CUB 001/0504/OBS 033.1.

164. See Annual Report 2004 and Urgent Appeal CUB 001/0403/OBS 018.1.

165. See Annual Report 2004.

166. The Varela project (2002) calls for a referendum on freedoms of expression and association, the release of all political prisoners, modification of the electoral law and the possibility of creating companies.

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