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Cuba: Organisations and independent media call on the Cuban government to respect the right to freedom of expression

Tuesday 13 July 2021 - 8:52pm

Cuba

Tuesday, 13 July 2021 - The undersigned organisations condemn the Cuban government's repression of the citizen protests that have been taking place since 11 July 2021 and which continue to this day. We also make an urgent call to the administration presided over by Miguel Díaz-Canel to stop all acts of violence and violations of the human rights of citizens, through the use of force, police repression and the call for confrontation between Cubans.

Cuba is currently experiencing a devastating health, economic and political crisis. On Sunday and Monday, people took to the streets to protest the lack of individual freedoms, the insufficient medical services to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the havoc wreaked on the economy by the government’s economic policies, food shortages, power cuts, and the recurrent violence of the security forces against any expression of citizen discontent. Mass demonstrations occurred in at least 58 different locations.

In response to the demonstrations, members of the National Revolutionary Police, the Riot Squads, and the State Security Department carried out arbitrary arrests and physical attacks against people who were demonstrating peacefully, including university students. Similarly, people from different independent media and activists denounced the installation of security devices around their homes to prevent them from going out onto the streets, a practice that the Cuban authorities have previously adopted as a tactic of intimidation. Additionally, international civil society organizations, activists, and journalists present at the demonstrations or following them remotely on both July 11 and 12 reported cuts in internet service and social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and instant messaging applications.

For his part, President Miguel Diaz-Canel called on supporters of the ruling party to take to the streets to confront the protesters, making a clear incitement to violence: "That is why we are calling on all revolutionaries in our country, all communists, to take to the streets in any of the places where these provocations are going to take place today, from now on and throughout these days."

After the message, groups supporting the Cuban government came out to attack and beat the demonstrators.

The violations registered by human rights organisations include attacks against the physical and psychological integrity of people, legal security, the right to assembly, freedom of expression, access to information, personal freedom, and the right to defend human rights. So far, several of the signatory organisations have registered dozens of people detained and/or disappeared at the hands of agents of the National Revolutionary Police and State Security, including minors. We have been unable to accurately determine the number of detentions, though it is in the hundreds, due to the cuts to internet service in the country and the detention of people being held incommunicado.

It is also important to note that numerous journalists covering the demonstrations were assaulted, among them the Associated Press (AP) photojournalist Ramón Espinosa (2). Others whose disappearances have been documented include the director of Hora de Cuba, Henry Constantin; Iris Mariño Garcia; Neife Rigau and Orelvys Cabrera Sotolongo; Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina; and Niober Garcia. Several individuals were also detained, such as the director of Tremenda Nota, Maykel González Vivero. The arbitrary detention of journalist Camila Acosta, who is the Cuban correspondent for the Spanish newspaper ABC and collaborates with Cubanet News, was also recorded today.

The undersigned organizations have registered the growing social unrest provoked by a lack of openness to dialogue, the punitive spirit of the Cuban authorities in their interaction with citizens, and the constant harassment of civil society and independent media. In this context, the Cuban government has accused activists and journalists of being part of a destabilization plan in order to undermine the legitimacy of the demands expressed in the various protests of today and years ago.

Likewise, we once again call on the international community, especially the embassies of the European Union and the special rapporteurs of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations (UN), as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to speak out in favour of the rights of Cuban citizens, and to call for democratisation through genuine dialogue as the only way to bring about change in the country.

We therefore call on the government of Cuba, headed by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, to refrain from continuing to violate the rights of the Cuban people with positions that diverge from the official position, and to guarantee the integrity of people who are legitimately exercising their right to demonstrate.

We also call once again on the international community, especially the embassies of the European Union and the special rapporteurs of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations (UN), as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to speak out in favour of the rights of Cuban citizens, and to call for democratisation through genuine dialogue as the only way to bring about change in the country.

(1) Héctor Valdés Cocho, Luz Escobar, Tania Bruguera, Kirenia Yalit Núñez.

(2) (7) Facebook


SIGNATORIES

Acción Constitucional

Amnistía Internacional ARTICLE 19 México y Centroamérica

Artists at Risk Connection

Asociación Pro Libertad de Prensa (APLP)

Aula Abierta

CADAL

Civil Rights Defenders

CUBALEX

Cuido60

Cultura Democrática

EXTITUTO

Freedom House

Freemuse

Fundación Artemisas

Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo

Fundamedios

Gobierno y Análisis Político A.C.

IFEX-ALC

Instituto sobre Raza, Igualdad y Derechos Humanos

Movimiento San Isidro

Red Latinoamericana de Jóvenes por la Democracia (Juventud LAC)

Observatorio de Libertad Académica (OLA)

PEN Cuban Writers in Exile

PEN International

People in Need

Prisoners Defenders

Programa Cuba

Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)

MEDIA

ADN Cuba

Alas Tensas

Árbol Invertido

CiberCuba

Cubanet News

Diario de Cuba

Play-Off Magazine

Proyecto Inventario

Rialta

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