Friday, March 6, 2015

Free Danilo: Music video calls for freedom of imprisoned Cuban artist

"Video for the campaign for the freedom of the artist in opposition to the Castro regime, Danilo Maldonado. An unpopular government represses. An insecure government fears artists." - Porno para Ricardo, over youtube March 6, 2015 

Gorki Águila with the Ladies in White demanding Freedom for Cuban artist Danilo

Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado "El Sexto" has been arbitrarily detained since December 26, 2014. His alleged crime? He bought two pigs for an art project and wrote on them "Fidel" and "Raul" and was on his way to a public park to release them when he was arrested before his performance art piece could be performed. Still jailed El Sexto has been indicted for "disrespect" that carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Ladies in White call for the freedom of Danilo Maldonado jailed since December 26
The Cuban punk rock band, Porno para Ricardo, has released a new song and video titled: Free Danilo. The lyrics tell the story about his arrest and below they are loosely translated to English from the original Spanish:

What did Danilo do? 
What did you do when the police took him away? 
He took a risk for wanting to express himself. 
He took two pigs to Central park, and they want to give him three years for that. 
Three years for two. 
Thats not just. 
Don't give him three for two.
Don't give him three for two.
Don't give him three for two. 
Three years for two pigs. No. 

What did you do watching the television?
You didn't even find out what happened.
Raul and Fidel the pigs are called. 
For art alone they lock him up.

If we unite we can take them out both: the pigs and Danilo

Don't give him three for two.
Don't give him three for two.
Don't give him three for two. 
Don't give him three for two.
Don't give him three for two.
Don't give him three for two. 
Don't give him three for two. 
Don't give him three for two. 
Three years for two pigs. No.

Freedom for Danilo!
Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

Rep. John Lewis remembers the "Bloody Sunday" in Selma 50 years ago that changed America

Some people love the world, but they don't love people. You have to respect the dignity and worth of every human being. Love everybody. - John Lewis, over twitter on March 5, 2015

Two Minute Warning, Police readying to attack marchers in Selma on 3/7/65. Spider Martin
 Remembering nonviolence and Selma fifty years later 

The American civil rights movement had several nonviolent moments such as Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, and another took place fifty years ago this month in Selma, Alabama.They have been captured on film as it happened and dramatized on film over the decades because they transformed America. Which leads to an obvious question: What is a nonviolent moment? The MettaCenter reproduces the definition originated by Yehudhah Mirsky of a nonviolent moment:
[A] climactic event in a campaign when all of the resistors’ forces are pitted against all of the oppressor’s forces in an open confrontation. The oppressor has two choices: escalate the oppression in a way that is repugnant to the rest of humanity, or back down and concede. Historical examples include the Dharasana Salt Raid during India’s anti-colonial struggle, the EDSA confrontation during the Philippines People Power movement, and Dr. King’s Selma march.
 The Library of Congress described one of the first flashpoints in the Selma conflict began on March 7, 1965 with John Lewis and Hosea Williams leading marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge:
On Sunday March 7, 1965, about six hundred people began a fifty-four mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery. They were demonstrating for African American voting rights and to commemorate the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, shot three weeks earlier by an state trooper while trying to protect his mother at a civil rights demonstration. On the outskirts of Selma, after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the marchers, in plain sight of photographers and journalists, were brutally assaulted by heavily armed state troopers and deputies.
Thanks to press on hand the world saw in video and photographs the brutality visited upon nonviolent demonstrators that day who maintained their nonviolent discipline in spite of the brutal attacks on them by the local authorities in Selma. It would lead through a protracted struggle into a march from Selma to Montgomery and would serve to usher in voting rights for African Americans in the United States. Fifty years later Congressman John Lewis would meet with Cuban dissidents currently engaged in civil disobedience in Cuba inspired by his struggle half a century ago. The positive fruits of nonviolence knows no bounds.

Below is a playlist of videos beginning with John Lewis's reflection on Selma at 50 which he uploaded on March 3, 2015. This is followed from video footage of the protests, marches and repression from a half century ago.


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expresses concerns about Venezuela

 "What will become of us, of our world, if we ignore our treaties and principles? Can we be so stupid as to repeat scenes from the twentieth century, punctured as it was by such awful inhumanity? You must not make it so."  - Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN Human Rights Council March 2, 2015
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

"I remain very concerned at the deteriorating human rights situation in Venezuela, particularly the government’s harsh responses to criticism and to peaceful expressions of dissent. The use of lethal force against demonstrators is deeply disturbing. We have also received repeated reports of intimidation and public smear campaigns, including by high-ranking government officials, of human rights defenders. I am particularly concerned at the continued detention of opposition leaders and demonstrators, often for prolonged periods."
 - Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein 
 Opening Statement, Item 2, High Commissioner's Annual Report 
March 5, 2015

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Castro Regime at the United Nations Human Rights Council

Undermining human rights at the UN for decades

UN experts justify the presence of outlaw regimes such as Cuba and North Korea in the UN Human Rights Council arguing that it would temper their behavior. It appears that just the opposite has been the case. The regime successfully undermined freedom of expression and narrowly failed in undermining the right to peacefully protest.

The latest example, the Castro regime has backed the creation of a new post at the United Nations Human Rights Council designed to classify sanctions against rogue regimes as violations of human rights. The new “Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights” will be appointed at the end of March during the current month-long session of the UNHRC.

For decades the Castro regime has been a negative force internationally undermining human rights despite its claims. Below is a partial accounting:
In the 1970s in addition to supporting guerrillas and terrorists the Castro regime also began an unusual relationship with the military dictatorship in Argentina helping to block efforts to condemn it at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for thousands of leftists disappeared by the regime.

On March 28, 2008 the Castro regime’s delegation together with the Organization of Islamic Congress (OIC) successfully passed resolutions undermining international freedom of expression standards at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The non-invitation invitation of Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture, by the Cuban Ambassador and the Cuban Minister of Justice in January of 2009 to visit Cuba later that same year. Only to be put off without notice again and again through 2009 and 2010 leading to this expert missing opportunities to visit other countries and on June 9, 2010, making the following statement:
“I regret that in spite of its clear invitation, the Government of Cuba has not allowed me to objectively assess the situation of torture and ill-treatment in the country by collecting first-hand evidence from all available sources.”
On February 2, 2009 during the Universal Periodic Review of China the Cuban Ambassador, Juan Antonio Fernandez Palacios encouraged the Chinese regime to repress human rights defenders in China with more firmness.

On May 28, 2009 amidst a human rights crisis in Sri Lanka the Cuban government's diplomats took the lead and successfully blocked efforts to address the wholesale slaughter there.

On August 23, 2011 the Cuban government along with China, Russia and Ecuador voted against investigating gross and systematic human rights violations in Syria.

On February 5, 2012 ALBA Countries reiterated rejection of "foreign interference" in Syria's internal affairs, expressing support for President Bashar al-Assad and confidence that he would resolve the Syrian crisis. ALBA Countries include Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. Meanwhile in Syria President al-Assad  engaged in massacres throughout the country

On June 1, 2012 at a Special Session on the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria with a special focus on the massacre in El-Houleh the Cuban regime and its allies took a stand against holding the Assad regime accountable for its gross and systematic human rights abuses.

On July 15, 2013: “Panama captured North Korean-flagged ship from Cuba with undeclared military cargo.”  On March 6, 2014 the United Nations released a report indicating that the Castro regime was in violation of international sanctions placed on North Korea and had not cooperated with the investigation.

On March 17, 2014 the UN Human Rights Council “was divided” in its discussion of the atrocities in North Korea between those who want the case to be elevated to the International Criminal Court and those who reject outright the existence of a commission of inquiry and conclusions. The Castro regime vigorously defended the North Korean regime and denounced the inquiry.

On March 21, 2014 at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Castro dictatorship again applauded the human rights record of the People's Republic of China, and voted to block the effort of human rights defenders to hold a moment of silence for Cao Shunli. She was an activist who had tried to participate in China’s Universal Periodic Review, but was detained at the airport trying to get on a flight to attend the current session  and accused of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." Within three months in detention and being denied medical care Cao Shunli died on March 14, 2014.

On March 28, 2014 at the United Nations Human Rights Council a resolution for “The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests, tried to safeguard this right” passed but with the narrow defeat of amendments that would have watered it down led by South Africa with the backing of Algeria, Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Out of that list of countries the one with the closest relationship with South Africa is Cuba.   
The one time the Castro regime opened to international human rights inspection was when it felt most pressured by a hostile international environment in the Reagan-Bush years. By the late 1980s with the collapse of their main subsidizer, the Soviet Union, the Castro regime was temporarily on the defensive. For the first time since 1959 they felt forced to allow the International Red Cross to visit prisons, allowed Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to enter Cuba in a formal visit as well as the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1989. It would not be repeated.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IACHR laments death of 14-year-old Kluivert Roa shot in the head by regime official in Venezuela

Kluivert Roa
 IACHR Laments the Death of a Student during Protests in Venezuela
March 3, 2015

Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) laments the death of a student during the suppression of a demonstration in Táchira, Venezuela, by security forces of the State. The IACHR rejects all forms of violence and urges the State of Venezuela to ensure that any use of force is in strict accordance with its international obligations. It also calls on Venezuela to promote a process of dialogue to find a peaceful solution to the current tensions, in a context of strict respect for human rights.

According to the information available, 14-year-old Kluibert Roa received a gunshot wound to the head during clashes between students and State security forces which took place on February 24, in the area around the Catholic University of Táchira (UCAT). The information received indicates that Kluibert Roa, a high school student, was not participating in the protests.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office reported that a police officer has been arrested in the case, and announced that it will launch an investigation. The Inter-American Commission takes note of the announcement and urges the State to conduct this investigation diligently and impartially, punish those responsible, and provide reparation to the victims.

Given the importance of the rights of freedom of association and expression for the consolidation of democratic societies, any restriction must be justified by an imperative social interest. Therefore, the limitations that a State may impose on a demonstration or protest must be justified by the duty to protect people, and the means used must be the safest and least harmful for demonstrators and passersby. Actions by agents of the State must not discourage the exercise of these rights. Moreover, any limitations on demonstrations must be governed by the principles of legality, necessity, and proportionality. The use of force in public demonstrations must be the exception, not the rule, and must be under strictly necessary circumstances, in keeping with recognized international principles.

The Inter-American Commission urges the State to adopt mechanisms to avoid excessive use of force by public law enforcement in protest marches and demonstrations, an obligation that must be taken into account especially in the case of children and adolescents.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 022/15