Human rights advocates condemn arrest of Cuban dissident

.- The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation has condemned the detention of dissident leader Jose Daniel Ferrer in Havana on Feb. 22.

“Facts like these demonstrate in a blatant way that the totalitarian regime that rules in Cuba is not willing to take even the smallest of steps towards improving the deplorable state of civil and political rights for the vast majority of the Cuban population,” the commission said.

Ferrer, who is the coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, was part of the “Group of 75” dissidents rounded up by the government in the so-called Black Spring of 2003. 

He was sentenced to 25 years in prison but released in 2011 through the intercession of the Church. He stayed in Cuba instead of accepting exile with other former political prisoners in Spain.

His current whereabouts, however, are unknown.

In its statement, the commission said that in recent months, Ferrer led an “extraordinary mobilization of the opposition” in the province of Santiago that has been met “with waves of political repression” by the Raul Castro regime.

The commission said Ferrer was “hunted down” by the government after it learned he was going to travel from Santiago to Havana this week.

According to Oswaldo Paya, the coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, Ferrer’s detention is not an isolated incident. 

“There has been a lot of repression in the province of Santiago. There have been detentions of members of our movement and members of the Women in White, who courageously proclaim what the Cuban people want: change, peace reconciliation,” Paya said.

Paya recounted to CNA the case of Yosvany Melchor, who was condemned to twelve years in prison “merely because his mother, a poor and simple yet courageous woman, refused to collaborate with State police as a member of our movement.”

“That is repression. Intolerance continues and we continue paving the way to peace, but the way to peace in Cuba must be through the law and freedom. We say this without any class hatred, without hatred of any kind, but rather with much love, with Christian love which is the definitive source of true freedom,” he said.

Paya demanded that the Communist regime “allow the people to have a voice through free elections, freedom of association, freedom of the press and the media, in an environment in which the people of Cuba can decide and write their own national plan. 

The repression in Santiago is an attempt to silence the voice of the people who want change, which the government continues to deny them.”

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