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Free the Cuban Five! | 26.07.2008 18:47 | Repression | Social Struggles | World

International Pressure Grows, Demanding U.S. Release of the "Cuban Five" Anti-Terrorists
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Free the Cuban Five
Free the Cuban Five

Freedom-loving people throughout the world are escalating the campaign for the release of Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez and Ramon Labanino, sentenced to life in prison in the U.S. for gathering information about terrorist plots by anti-Cuban organizations in Miami, Florida.

Following decades of attacks on Cuban territory (arson, sabotage, murder, and the use of biological weapons) emanating from anti-Cuban terrorist groups in Southern Florida, and after repeated refusals by the United Nations and the US government to take corrective action to prevent such attacks, a group of unarmed volunteers from Cuba came to the United States to monitor the activities of the mercenary groups responsible for those attacks and to warn Cuba of their aggressive intentions.

In September, 1998 five of these men, three of whom had courageously served as internationalist combatants in the war of liberation in Angola, were arrested in Southern Florida by agents of the FBI. Held in isolation for months, they were eventually convicted of various charges, including conspiracy and false identity. Gerardo Hernandez was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for the shoot down by the Cuban Air Force within Cuban airspace of two planes of the terrorist organization Brothers to the Rescue.

The people of Cuba and others who are victims of terrorist acts by the U.S. government and groups like Brothers to the Rescue regard the Cuban Five as heroes. Demands for their release are increasing around the world:

July 21, Madrid, Spain - Supporters of the Cuban Five delivered a manifesto signed by 600 Spanish public officials demanding the release of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters.

July 20, Managua, Nicaragua - President Daniel Ortega awarded the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters jailed in the United States with the Augusto C. Sandino Order, stating Daniel Orgega"they are an example of courage and meritorious sons of Fidel Castro, Jose Marti and Cuba." Ortega made the announcement before thousands of Nicaraguans who gathered on July 19 to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution.

July 12, Ottawa, Canada - 56 Members of Parliament signed a letter demanding justice and the release of the Cuban Five.

July 8, Panama - A meeting of regional lawmakers, with members of Parliament from 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries declared it's support for the release of the Cuban Five. They also approved an extensive plan of activities to "break the wall of disinformation imposed by United States regarding the case and reinforce actions to end injustice against the Cuban Five".

The Cuban Five has also received statements of support from Namibian Minister Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo, Parliament members of Equatorial Guinea, and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola-Youth Movement.

Tune in to at 13:00 U.S. Eastern Time to learn more about the case and what you can do to support international efforts against U.S. state terrorism. Read more from news and support committee sources on the web.
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Cuba: 58 prisoners of conscience must be released

26.07.2008 20:50


Cuba: 58 prisoners of conscience must be released | Amnesty ...
18 February 2008

Taken from the Amnesty International Report 2007
Head of state and government: Raúl Castro Ruz (provisionally replaced Fidel Castro Ruz in July)
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: not ratified

Freedom of expression, association and movement continued to be severely restricted. At least 69 prisoners of conscience remained imprisoned for their political opinions. Political dissidents, independent journalists and human rights activists continued to be harassed, intimidated and detained, some without charge or trial. Cubans continued to feel the negative impact of the US embargo.

During 2006 Cuba secured a place on the UN Human Rights Council and assumed the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement during its XIV Summit in Havana in September.

In July, Fidel Castro underwent surgery and for the first time since 1959 transferred his responsibilities to other senior officials, including his brother, Raúl Castro Ruz. Political opposition parties and activities were not tolerated.

Political relations with the USA remained tense despite economic exports of agricultural products to Cuba exceeding US$500 million. The US Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba issued an update of its previous report in July. The European Union did not reintroduce sanctions lifted in 2005 despite continued concerns over the human rights situation in Cuba.

The US government set up a law enforcement task force to track down and prosecute those who circumvent restrictions on travelling and commercial exchanges with Cuba. In November, for the 15th consecutive year, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on the USA to end its embargo on Cuba.

The government continued to deny the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cuba access to the country. AI and other independent human rights organizations were also not allowed to visit.
Prisoners of conscience

At the end of the year, 69 prisoners of conscience continued to be held for their non-violent political views or activities. Twelve others continued to serve their sentences outside prison because of health concerns. No releases of prisoners of conscience were reported during the year.

• Orlando Zapata Tamayo was sentenced to three years in 2003 on charges of showing "contempt to the figure of Fidel Castro", "public disorder" and "resistance". In November 2005 he was reportedly sentenced to an additional 15 years for "contempt" and "resistance" in prison. In May 2006, he was again tried on the same charges and sentenced to an additional seven-year term. He was serving a prison sentence of 25 years and six months.
Detention without charge or trial

Scores of people continued to be held without charge on suspicion of counter-revolutionary activities or on unclear charges. Their legal status remained unclear at the end of the year.

• Prisoner of conscience Oscar Mariano González Pérez, an independent journalist who was arrested in July 2005 as he was about to take part in a demonstration in front of the French embassy, remained in detention without charge or trial.
Freedom of expression and association

Severe restrictions on freedom of expression and association persisted. All print and broadcast media remained under state control. There was a rise in the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists and librarians. People suspected of links with dissident groups or involved in promoting human rights were arrested and detained. There was an increase in arrests on charges of "pre-criminal dangerousness". Access to the Internet remained severely limited outside governmental offices and educational institutions. Journalist Guillermo Fariñas staged a seven-month hunger strike to obtain access to the Internet, without success.

• Armando Betancourt Reina, a freelance journalist, was arrested on 23 May as he took notes and photographs of evictions from a house in the city of Camagüey. He was charged with public disorder. Armando Betancourt was reportedly held incommunicado for a week at the police station before being transferred to Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey on 6 June. He was awaiting trial at the end of the year.
Harassment and intimidation of dissidents and activists

There was an increase in the public harassment and intimidation of human rights activists and political dissidents by quasi-official groups in so-called acts of repudiation.

• Juan Carlos González Leiva, President of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, was reportedly the target of several "acts of repudiation" - involving government supporters reportedly acting with the collusion of the authorities - at his home in the city of Ciego de Avila. He and his family were repeatedly threatened by demonstrators. Juan Carlos González Leiva, who is blind, was arrested in March 2002 for "disrespect", "public disorder", "resistance" and "disobedience" and spent two years in prison without trial. In April 2004 he was sentenced to four years' imprisonment, to be served at his home.
AI country reports/visits

• Cuba: Fundamental freedoms still under attack (AI Index: AMR 25/001/2006)

• Cuba: Fear for safety/Fear of torture/intimidation/harassment - Miguel Valdés Tamayo and Juan Carlos González Leiva (AI Index: AMR 25/002/2006)

AI last visited Cuba in 1988 and has not been allowed into the country since.

Amnesty International