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Friday, May 4, 2018

FCF human rights report included in upcoming human rights session on Cuba in Geneva on May 16, 2018

FCF submission to the UPR included by office of the UN High Commissioner in Stakeholder's information

Free Cuba Foundation Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Cuba
30th session of the UPR Working Group, April - May 2018

 The human rights situation in Cuba over the past four years has impacted us directly with a founding member being physically assaulted on April 8, 2015 by Cuban officials in Panama who violently disrupted a peaceful gathering and shut it down.

Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016 and human rights defenders who refused to mourn his passing were arrested, detained and placed on trial. When a human rights defender and pro-democracy activist spoke honestly about Mr. Castro’s legacy in Cuba he was beaten up in front of his family on November 30, 2017, jailed and sentenced to three years in prison in March of 2017.

Physical violence carried out by government agents in Panama City, Panama on April 8, 2015
Cuban officials attacked Cuban and Cuban American activists in 2015 on eve of the Summit of the Americas. Mr. Augusto Monge was physically assaulted, along with several other activists and human rights defenders, on April 8, 2015 in Panama City at Porra Park while joining with other Cuban Americans and Cuban internal opposition activists in laying flowers at a bust of Jose Marti in that public park. The attack had all the hallmarks of "acts of repudiation" carried out by "rapid response brigades" organized by state security in Cuba. What was different is that this was carried out in Panama. Augusto made the following report of what took place.

"We left some roses, we were singing the Cuban national anthem and at that moment a group of government agents came out of the nearby Cuban Embassy running, they crossed the street and began to beat up everyone, including some of the women in the group. There were police, but very few to respond. We were again attacked while trying to board the bus to leave. We were a group of about twenty, including the drivers, and seven of us were injured. Among them were myself, Augusto Monge, Orlando Gutierrez Boronat, Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”, Leticia Ramos Herrería, Yris Pérez Aguilera, and Silvia Iriondo.

Mr. Monge is a founding member of the Free Cuba Foundation and past chairman of the organization. He suffered two black eyes, and several bruises and contusions. This attack violated several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 2. of the UDHR states that all are "entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." Representatives of the Cuban government sought to shut down a peaceful assembly because they did not believe that the individuals gathered had the right to exercise their rights due to their opposition to the existing government in Cuba.

Also violated on the same basis were "Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." and "Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law." The Cuban government did not respect the rights of this persons before the law or their right to be secure in their persons. This is also a violation of Article 7 of the UDHR hat reads in part "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. "

Official writer and university professor, Raúl Antonio Capote, self-identified as agent Daniel for Cuban State Security wrote an article on his blog "Diario 90 Noventa" libeling Orlando Gutierrez as a terrorist and referring to other participants as his puppets in an article published on April 14, 2015. This was a violation of Article 12 of the UDHR because it was an attack upon the "honour and reputation" of those peacefully gathered in Porra Park and assaulted by Cuban government agents on April 8, 2015.

The violent shutting down of a peaceful gathering by agents who emerged from the Cuban Embassy in Panama also violated Article 18 of the UDHR that everyone "has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion," Article 19. "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference..." and Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association."

The actions carried out by Cuban government agents run counter to the Charter of the United Nations and its determination "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person" and "to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors."

Death of Fidel Castro and wave of repression against freedom of expression and non-participation.

Eduardo Cardet Concepción was sentenced to three years in prison on March 20, 2017 following a political show trial on March 3, 2017. Cardet has been jailed following a brutal beating by Castro's political police in front of his family on November 30, 2016. Cardet's offense was speaking critically of Fidel Castro, following his death on November 25, 2016 and being the national coordinator of Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement. The previous national coordinator Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas died under suspicious circumstances in a car crash along with the movement’s youth leader, Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012 in Cuba. Mr. Cardet Concepción is a physician, husband, and a father of two.

Twin sisters Anairis and Adairis Miranda Leyva, their brother Fidel Manuel Batista Leyva, and their mother Maydolis Leyva Portelles left their homes during the official state imposed mourning period following the death of Fidel Castro and were arrested on November 27, 2016. The three siblings were sentenced to one-year in prison for “defamation of institutions, organizations and heroes and martyrs of the Republic of Cuba” and “public disorder” and the mother to house arrest. On April 2, 2017, after a long hunger-strike, the three siblings were released under conditional release. This means that the charges were not dropped but that those convicted are allowed to spend the remainder of their sentences outside prison. Their mother remains under house arrest. They continue to suffer harassment and intimidation from Cuban officials.

Economist Karina Gálvez Chiu was sentenced to to three years of deprivation of liberty and the confiscation of her home for the alleged crime of tax evasion. Cuba does not have an independent judiciary and the trial appears to have the objective of shutting down the headquarters of of the Center for Coexistence studies (CEC). Gálvez Chiu’s home was the meeting place for this independent project. It is the second time that the civil society group has lost a meeting place. The first time was in 2009 when the meeting place, located in her parent’s yard was confiscated and closed. The court ruling said that the conviction seeks to “make the defendant understand” the seriousness of the crime and also “serve to educate the people in general.”

Free Cuba Foundation Recommendations to the Cuban State
  • End the acts of repudiation carried out by rapid response brigades organized by government agents both inside and outside of Cuba. 
  • Free all political prisoners.
  • Respect and recognize the right to freedom of expression and association. This includes not participating in activities.
  • Recognize independent civil society organizations.