Dozens arrested on International Human Rights Day
HAVANA TIMES — Dozens of “Ladies in White” and other Cuban activists were arrested today in downtown Havana to thwart a planned protest march on International Human Rights Day, reported dpa news.
The women attempted to organize a peaceful anti-government march similar to those usually held on Sundays in the Miramar district of the capital.
By noon the Police had already arrested some 30 activists on the corner of L and 23rd Streets of Vedado and took them away in patrol and other vehicles. “¡Long live human rights!” -shouted several of the women at the time of their arrest.
Hundreds of government supporters were assembled to greet the protest with a so-called “repudiation rally” in which they harass and threaten dissidents. A heavy police presence was noted in the surrounding areas.
Several days before, the Ladies in White had called to repeat their protest held on International Human Rights Day on the same corner the previous year.
The leader of the group of wives of former political prisoners, Berta Soler, was not available. The authorities routinely temporarily disconnect cell phones of activists, often when protests or marches on specific dates as the International Human Rights Day are planned.
For years now, opposition activists denounce the short-term arrests to avoid concentrations of dissent. The detainees are usually released within hours or days without any charges filed against them.
The government of Raul Castro does not recognize the political opposition and accuses dissidents of being “mercenaries” financed from abroad to destabilize the country. This can include anyone publically disagreeing with government policies.