UN Must Condemn Cuban Crackdown
Freedom House strongly condemns the recent heavy sentencing of 75 Cuban human rights activists and independent journalists. It calls on the UN Commission on Human Rights, currently meeting in Geneva, to strengthen a resolution on Cuba currently under consideration and to unequivocally condemn the Cuban regime's actions.
According to the Comision Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliacion Nacional, a Cuban independent human rights organization, activists were given prison sentences ranging from 6 to 28 years, with 46 receiving sentences of over 20 years. Prosecutors had sought life sentences for a small number of the activists, for crimes such as publishing articles outside of Cuba, advocating for workers' rights, and meeting with foreign political figures visiting the island. Homes of many of the activists were ransacked and authorities seized extensive family properties.
The crackdown was largely targeted at the Varela Project, a peaceful, broad-based citizen petition for a referendum on political and civil liberties. The Varela Project is based on the Cuban Constitution, which guarantees Cuban citizens the right to request such a referendum. At least 45 of the detainees are activists in the Varela Project, and about 20 are local coordinators of the petition drive.
Freedom House is also concerned about the executions of Cuban citizens. On April 10, after summary trials, the Cuban regime executed by firing squad three people convicted of leading a bloodless hijacking in Havana.
Freedom House is particularly concerned over indications that the Human Rights Commission may adopt a weak, watered down, and compromised resolution. Given the magnitude of the latest wave of repression in Cuba, nothing less than clear and unequivocal condemnation of the regime's actions is acceptable.
Freedom House calls on democratic governments, non-governmental organizations, and concerned individuals to express their solidarity with the detained dissidents and to provide humanitarian support to their families and to members of Cuba's human rights community.
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.