Friday, September 9, 2011

Human Rights Defenders Detained Today in Cuba

"Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty." - Louis Dembitz Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1927)

Listening to former prisoner of conscience Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia today, in the audio below, announce that the political police are impeding their rights. That together with other human rights defenders he will go on with the march announcing their impending detention. He was detained moments after making the recording below.

After spending eight years in prison for his role in organizing the Varela Project, a petition drive to call on the Cuban regime to reform itself in order to respect international human rights standard. The regime's response was to threaten him with the death penalty. At the time Jose Daniel responded at his trial that he was willing to die for his beliefs but that they did not have the guts to do it. He was right. Instead Jose Daniel was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Over the next eight years he continued his human rights activism and defiance of arbitrary force. He was released, as part of the group of the 75 imprisoned in March of 2003, because of a combination of international and domestic pressure following the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo on February 23, 2010 and the brutalization of the Ladies in White over the following months.

Even if you do not speak Spanish, you can still here the determination in his voice in the recording below.

José Daniel Ferrer Garcia was detained together with fellow former prisoner of conscience of the group of 75, Ángel Moya, Raumel Vinajera and Francisco Macias. Their wives now also risk imprisonment denouncing their loved one's arrest. Others have also been detained in a sign that repression continues on the upswing in totalitarian Cuba. However, the courage of men such as these and of women like the Ladies in White has to shake the confidence of the dictatorship. Because they know that the secret to freedom, as Brandeis observed long ago, is courage. As the Cuban people begin to lose their fear and embrace the courage of these men and women so does the clock begin to run down on the dictatorship.

Peter Garbriel's song Wall Flower is dedicated to prisoners of conscience in Latin America. Below is a live performance from September 26, 2010 in Verona, Italy. Please keep José Daniel, Ángel, Raumel and the rest of Cuba's prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders in your thoughts and prayers.

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