- For defenders
- How can I help?
Human rights defenders (HRDs), journalists, and other members of civil society who criticize the Cuban Government have continued to face severe restrictions and violations to their rights of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement. The authorities continue to legally and physically prohibit peaceful activities including reporting on human rights violations and promoting democratic reforms. Raúl Castro's continued accordance with the previous repressive regime of his brother Fidel, means that the media in Cuba remains tightly controlled and laws against anti-government speech carry hefty penalties for those who do not acquiesce.
A reminder of events of the spring of 2003 when 75 human rights defenders, democracy and political activists were arrested, tried and sentenced to long custodial terms, 2011 and 2012 have witnessed a severe crackdown on civil society throughout the island with weekly reports of threats, violent beatings, arrests and arbitrary detentions, house arrests, and the use of tear gas against peaceful gatherings. Cuban HRDs are also regularly victims of actos de repudio (acts of repudiation), when pro-government mobs acting as “Rapid Response Brigades” harass, threaten, insult and attack them as they go about their human rights activities. Human rights defenders operating outside of Havana face additional challenges as a result of limited access to very limited support structures.
Internet use is severely restricted and those who do get access to it are under heavy surveillance. Whilst an increasing number of HRDs are using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to inform on violations, self-censorship is often applied as a result of the disproportionate penalties that exist for political dissent.
There are severe restrictions on human rights defenders' freedom of movement including selective denial of exit visas and forcible removal from Havana City to their hometowns. HRDs traveling to the capital city from other parts of the country have reported being removed from buses and denied the right to travel. Officials have also confiscated HRDs' national identification cards which are a requirement for travel. Restrictions on freedom of movement are used to prevent legitimate human rights activities from taking place, including peaceful meetings and demonstrations.
In October 2011 the human rights community in Cuba lost a brave leader when Laura Pollán, founder of Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), died in Havana. On 22 July 2012 Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, leader of the Movimiento Cristiano Liberación – MCL (Liberation Christian Movement), and founder of the Proyecto Varela, was killed in a car crash. Both Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas were recipients of the European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom and Thought, in 2005 and 2002 respectively.
27 November 2012
25 July 2012
24 January 2012
13 December 2011
17 October 2011
Cuba: Detained human rights defender Mr Antonio González Rodiles to be charged with resistance to authority
Cuba: Arrest of human rights defenders and members of the Damas de Blanco Laura Pollán and denial of the right to freedom of assembly
Cuba: Violent arbitrary arrest of three human rights defenders and incommunicado detention of Ms Ivonne Malleza Galano
- 1 of 2