Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dozens of Ladies in White and other activists beaten and arrested leaving Santa Rita Church today

We cannot celebrate Human Rights Day here in Cuba. We can't because they repress us and beat us. Right now there's an act of repudiation in front of the Ladies in White headquarters." - Bertha Soler, Lady in White, The Associated Press, December 9, 2011

Bertha Soler arrested today in Havana, Cuba
Update: 7:49pm December 9, 2012: Angel Moya reports over twitter that "More than 100 Ladies in White were violently arrested on the eve of December 10, institutionalized violence against women."

Bertha Soler made the statement at the top of the page one year ago today. She is unavailable for comment today because she along with 44 other Ladies in White was beaten up, dragged, and arrested emerging from Santa Rita Church in Havana, Cuba.

On the eve of International Human Rights Day in Cuba 45 Ladies in White and at least eight activists were arrested and beaten by agents of the Castro regime. The mainstream news based in Havana so far has been silent but Cuban independent journalists and activists are once again scooping the news bureaus via twitter. These journalists have a lot more to lose than being deported from Cuba. For example, Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias is on day 29 of a hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment since September 16, 2012. Another Cuban writer, Angel Santiesteban, has been sentenced to five years in prison for thinking differently and having the courage to set it down to paper.

The price paid by Cuban independent journalists often times is not measured in money but beatings and years in prison.

First learned of the crackdown through the Ladies in White official twitter account which stated: "Try to communicate with Lady in White Berta Soler and message says that her phone number does not exist." A short time later another tweet appears:  Arrests, repudiation rallies, the Ladies in White phones interrupted, is happening right now throughout Cuba.

Less than 20 minutes later Yoani Sanchez confirms "arrest of William Cacer Diaz who is in the station of Alamar together with Angel Moya and other activists."Angel Moya is the husband of the leader of the Ladies in White, Bertha Soler and he is also a former prisoner of conscience.

Bertha Soler and Angel Moya
 At 3:45pm Ivan Hernandez Carillo confirms the "detention and arrests of the Ladies in White who walked through 5th Avenue of Havana today and that they have been taken to whereabouts unknown." Ivan Hernandez Carillo is an independent journalist and labor activist who spent many years in prison for his nonviolent activism and journalism. Nevertheless he begins to tweet in increments of 140 characters a report of what took place today in Cuba:

Witnesses to event tell me that at 3rd & 26th, Miramar, Havana were paramilitary women of the regime in civilian dress in three buses. The women, experts in karate, dressed as civilians and part of  the political police, dragged, beat and arrested the Ladies in White. In addition to the 45 Ladies in White arrested, there was news of another eight activists who accompanied them that were also arrested. "The Ladies in White were dragged and beaten through the street" said an eyewitness, who added, "that what the regime did to them was disastrous."

News of the crackdown was confirmed via other twitterers who provided additional details. For example Felix Navarro, a former prisoner of conscience, reported that "[a]lso beaten and arrested was Angel Moya Acosta when he exited the Church of Santa Rita today."

The blogger Sayli Navarro cited Roberto J. Guerra of Hablemos Press as the source and reported that 44 Ladies in White and more than eight activists were detained in Havana and that it took place at 3rd and 26th.

Within the past hour through the twitter account of Roberto Guerra there is news that some of the Ladies in White and opposition activists are being released. The names provided are Yadira Bonbino, Santos Manuel Fernandez, Daniel Millet, Magaly Norvis, and the president of the Ladies in White Bertha Soler .

Ladies in White gathered in Havana, Cuba
International Human Rights Day 2012 requires the scrutiny of the international community along with courageous journalists to report what is going on in Cuba. The pretext for today's violent crackdown reports Diario de Cuba is that according to State Security they were arrested for not respecting the grief of the Cuban people over Chavez's health.

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