Human Rights Watch accuses the Cuban government of a “brutal strategy of repression” against dissidents.
HAVANA TIMES – Luis Mario Niedas Hernández, arrested on July 11 during the anti-government demonstrations in Cuba, has been sentenced to three years in prison, according to Néstor Estevez in the Sancti Spíritus group that he manages on Facebook.
Estevez explained that the sentence was learned this Monday, 18 days after the trial was held, which, according to his testimony, was held under strong security measures and without allowing family and friends access to the oral hearing. A “prestigious lawyer participated in the process, discredited by the regime because not even being innocent did he manage to get his client out unscathed from false accusations and witnesses who are officials of the Sancti Spiritus government,” the activist also accuses.
Niedas Hernandez was accused of aggravated contempt, spread of the epidemic and instigation of violence. The Prosecutor’s Office had requested six years in prison for him, with the sentence ultimately halved.
Friends and acquaintances of Niedas Hernández maintain that he has been tortured during his stay in the Nieves Morejón prison, where he has also spent fifteen days in a punishment cell.
“Within the tiny space, he had to relieve himself, eat, bathe and sleep. An inhuman treatment that violates all the elementary rights of the human being and that makes it clear that in Cuba the laws and international conventions that guarantee dignified treatment of the inmates are not being complied with in Cuba,” continues Estévez, who also advanced that the family is not considering appealing the sentence “in order not to extend the circus.”
“We will survive. We will seek justice, we will build a new society, we will rebuild the nation. That will be our revenge,” claims the activist.
Niedas Hernández, 32, defined himself this July as an activist “due to pressure from the regime.” The San Isidro Movement and 27N (27 November protest) were at the root of his mobilization, first on social networks, which meant the beginning of a campaign against him from officialdom.
“They expelled me from two jobs, one of them via a hate rally, and all for supporting a just cause from my social networks,” he claimed.
Human Rights Watch Report
The case occurred a few hours before the presentation of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report began. In the report the Cuban authorities are accused of perpetrating “systematic” arrests and abuses to contain the “overwhelmingly peaceful” mobilizations of July, in the framework of a “brutal strategy of repression” against movements opposed to the Government of Miguel Díaz-Canel.
He wanted to “instill fear among the population and repress dissent,” according to researcher Juan Pappier, after some investigations in which the NGO has interviewed more than 150 people and has consulted documentation, also of an official nature, to determine the scope of what happened.
Cubalex has created a data base of more than a thousand people arrested, of whom more than 500 remain behind bars. A protester, Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, died in the town of La Güinera, after a police officer shot him in the back.
In its report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has identified 130 victims of arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment and abusive criminal proceedings and estimates that “many” of the hundreds of people arrested during the protests have suffered “brutal” abuses during their detention and “dozens” have been prosecuted, without a minimum of guarantees.
Among the abuses detected by HRW researchers are sleep deprivation, beatings, isolation without natural light or threats of retaliation against family members. They have also denounced abusive interrogations, also charged with all kinds of threats and pressure.
Pappier said the judicial processes have been “a true farce” and are part of a strategy that transcends the anecdotal. “The patterns in these abuses show that they are clearly not the result of abusive conduct by a few officers,” he said.
HRW noted the message that Díaz-Canel sent to the “revolutionaries” when the protests began, so that they too would take to the streets. “The combat order is given,” declared the president, in what would mean the start of an offensive by the security forces and other pressure measures such as restrictions on the Internet connection.
The NGO has identified, among the officials involved in abuses, members of the intelligence services, military, police, and brigade members known as ’black berets.’ It also notes that judges and prosecutors have limited themselves to acting as a conveyor belt for the executive branch, facilitating “abusive” processes.