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Human Rights Defender Sirley Ávila León Disappeared in Cuba
In response to the disappearance of Sirley Ávila León upon her return to Cuba from the United States, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Avila León is an outspoken local leader who has been targeted by the Cuban government for voicing community concerns,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin America programs. “The international community should press the government to disclose where she is being held and to end its attacks targeting human rights defenders.”
Ávila León was last seen on September 7, 2016, at Miami International Airport boarding her return flight to Holguín, Cuba. She spent the last six months in the United States receiving medical treatment for injuries sustained in an assassination attempt in May 2015. In September 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued precautionary measures for Ms. Ávila León. Hours before her departure, she filmed a short video expressing her concerns and requested it be release if no one heard from her within three hours of arriving in Cuba. Her flight landed at 4:13 pm and no news of her whereabouts have been received.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.