Friday, August 31, 2012

Oswaldo Payá, Harold Cepero and the Future of ODCA

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. - Martin Luther King Jr.  


Senator Ocejo Moreno

Excerpt from the Statement by the President of ODCA, Senator Jorge Ocejo Moreno before the 2012 Meeting of the ODCA Council 

Santiago, Chile
August 31, 2012

A few days ago, with much pain, we have seen the departure of one of those men of ours committed to our ideals and an example of heroism for his people.

Oswaldo Payá left us on this earth the example of a heroic struggle of an entire lifetime, but also left us a role model to follow as politicians and Christians. A young man also left us, Harold Cepero, and that his memory serves us to remember so many nameless faces in our history, which also fought for democracy and freedom.
 
Today I want to represent in them, in Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Payá, what should be our fight in the future. A struggle of commitment and heroism to make reality our communitarian dreams.

He said that man tends by nature, by the character of the human spirit, sooner or later, towards freedom, to the collective and fraternal good, to the pursuit of happiness and perfection in his encounter with his other brothers and in the final encounter with God.

For them, I was moved that in the midst of the pain of the departure of Oswald and Harold, there was no time to mourn or detain the march.

At the home of Oswaldo, we were together with youth of the Christian Liberation Movement, with smiling faces, with hands symbolizing the struggle for liberty, and with the spirit and the heart disposed for the new fight.

Yes friends, this has been the history of the ODCA in these 65 years; this is the story of the ODCA in the present and must be the future story of the ODCA. It is a history built from the conviction and spirit, it is a Christian humanist and heroic struggle, a struggle that cannot be stopped even one second until reaching our dream.

I know we have all the strength of the human spirit to achieve it and also that it will be that way until the end of time.

Oswaldo Payá y Harold Cepero
Extracto de la Declaración del Presidente de la ODCA, el senador Ocejo Moreno antes de la reunión de 2012 del Consejo de la ODCA

Santiago, Chile
31 de agosto 2012


Hace muy pocos días, con mucho dolor, hemos visto partir a uno de esos hombres nuestros, comprometido con nuestros ideales y ejemplo de heroísmo para su pueblo.

Oswaldo Payá nos dejó en esta tierra una lucha heroica de toda una vida, pero también nos dejó el ejemplo de un modelo a seguir como políticos y cristianos. Nos dejó también un muchacho joven, Harold Cepero, y sirva este recuerdo para no olvidar a tantos rostros sin nombre de nuestra historia, que han luchado también por la democracia y la libertad.

Hoy quiero representar en ellos, en Harold Cepero y Oswaldo Payá, lo que debe ser nuestra lucha en el futuro. Una lucha de compromiso y de heroísmo por hacer realidad nuestros sueños comunitarios.
Decía que el hombre tiende por naturaleza, por el carácter del espíritu humano, tarde o temprano, hacia la libertad, hacia el bien colectivo y fraterno, a la búsqueda de su felicidad y también a su perfección en su encuentro con sus otros hermanos y en el encuentro final con Dios.
Por ello, me emocionó que en medio del dolor por la partida de Oswaldo y Harold, no hubo tiempo para llorar o detener la marcha.

En la casa de Oswaldo, estábamos juntos a jóvenes del Movimiento Cristiano de Liberación, con los rostros sonrientes, con las manos simbolizando la lucha por la libertad, y con el espíritu y el corazón dispuesto para el nuevo combate.

Si amigos, esa ha sido la historia de la ODCA en estos 65 años; es la historia presente de la ODCA y ha de ser la historia futura de la ODCA. Es una historia construida desde la convicción y el espíritu, es una lucha humanista y cristiana heroica, es una lucha que no se puede detener ni un solo segundo hasta alcanzar nuestro sueño.

Sé que tenemos toda la fuerza del espíritu humano para lograrlo y se también que así será hasta el fin de los tiempos.







Discurso del Presidente de la ODCA, el Senador Jorge Ocejo Moreno:  "Fundadores de Valores, Democracia y Futuro: el Legado Internacional de la ODCA"





Monday, August 27, 2012

Crackdown continues in Cuba: Antunez among detained


On August 26, the same day that José Daniel Ferrer García of the Cuban Patriotic Union was released after being held since August 23,  Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front for Civic Resistance and Disobedience was detained along with  Julio Columbie Batista and Arturo Conde Zamora in Holguin. It appears that the announcement that the noncooperation effort is entering a new phase has upset the regime. Below is the text of the Campaign for a National General Strike translated to English here. The document was originally made public on Antúnez's blog on August 24, 2012 in the midst of the crackdown.  It is a concrete call to national nonviolent action and the document bears close reading.

Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" detained

Campaign for a National General Strike

 The National General Strike is an important initiative sponsored by the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front for Civic Resistance and Disobedience. As its name indicates, this initiative seeks a partial paralysis of the entire national infrastructure through strong and systematic actions by the forces of internal resistance. In its first and second stages the General Strike is part of a continuing campaign of non-cooperation. This strike can be successful only after a real and resolute decision by a significant number of citizens to deny responsibility for, or to cooperate with, the oppressive regime.

It must be made clear that, although the National Front is calling for and sponsoring this crucial campaign, it can only be viable with the participation of each and every constituency for change, whether it be the National Front, political parties, movements, regional coalitions — in other words the energetic forces of Cuban resistance, which are the primary vehicle of democratic change.
The campaign for the National General Strike will use only peaceful means so that no constituencies which take part can in any way confuse the strike with economic sabotage, or the destruction of or attacks on state or private property.

It is the policy of the General Strike to be dissuasive and persuasive, acknowledging that, to succeed, we must work patiently, motivated by great faith and certainty. The only true potential for change comes from citizens who support us, as well as those who simply look upon us with indifference, fear or admiration for what we are doing. This includes those we see walking beside us, in line behind us, from a private office, and even those attacking us in so-called acts of repudiation. All can unite with us and contribute to the great day of the General Strike.

The campaign for a General Strike can, in a powerful way, also help to do away with the worrying fear of change that persists in many areas of society, especially among those who are ill-informed and those most compromised by the current regime.

The concept must be clearly understood, both by the promoters of the General Strike as well as by those who hear its message. The purpose of the strike is not to destroy, obstruct or cause damage to anyone or anything. Its intention is to peacefully boycott the means of production that confer profits on those who misgovern the millions of Cubans who are hungry, oppressed, and without liberty or the right to protest.

The Strike is a decision and commitment by everyone, or by a great and significant majority of Cubans, to say, “Enough!” The strategy of the General Strike is in accordance with basic, universally recognized rights and freedoms, which — together with the peaceful tactics it employs — gives it legitimacy and puts it in harmony with human dignity itself, something of primary importance.

Though a recent idea, one born that was born in Cuba, the strategy of the General Strike Campaign is based on innumerable precedents and inspired by similar actions around the globe. These have been successful in spite of a number of differing circumstances, such as culture and language.

The change which the General Strike seeks is viable under any circumstance in the struggle against the oppressive and totalitarian system.

The first phase of the campaign is outlined below:

To effect a total or partial strike before doing the necessary preparation or raising public awareness is so unlikely as to be almost impossible — even more so in a country like ours in which repression affects everyone and is everywhere, where a sinister and comprehensive system of repression controls, spies on, and penalizes the slightest and most moderate expression of discontent or dissent.

It is unthinkable and impossible to bring the country to a total or partial standstill when little or next to nothing has been done domestically to systematically provide information to the average Cuban, who is misinformed and bombarded by the state media monopoly.

Therefore, the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Front for Civic Resistance proposes an introductory phase to develop an intense and on-going public awareness campaign. This program will present the citizenry with mottoes and slogans with social themes, which will initially identify us as being concerned with the needs of the people.

This will help convince Cubans of the nature of their situation, that they have rights, and that these right must be respected. This information blitz will be carried out through visible channels such as text messaging, Twitter accounts, CD’s, flash drives, printed material, as well as through pamphlets, placards and signs posted in visible, public spaces.

We can also solicit support, through broadcasts and other media, from friends who support the Cuban cause. This duration of this initial campaign, to be called “Cubans, Defend Your Rights,” will be open-ended if it is determined that it can— given its importance  — be postponed, or rather extended, to other phases of the larger campaign.

This first phase is one of outreach, both internally and externally, to the public, which has the potential to play a leading role in the very necessary and essential change. It will be launched in light of the hard reality that most Cubans lack access to the internet, satellite television or cable.

Regrettably, outside of Cuba a not insignificant number of people are able to analyze Cuban reality from the viewpoint of an open society with a free flow of information, one of numerous advantages common in other countries. In Cuban society only the official version can be published, and only when and how the governing elite decide to publish it.

Jorge Luis García Pérez Antúnez

Secretary General of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front for Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience, who will neither be silenced nor will leave Cuba, and who reiterates that his primary objective today is the “National General Strike.”

Placetas, Cuba
August 24 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crackdown underway in Cuba and many in the media remain silent

News is something someone wants suppressed. Everything else is just advertising. - Lord Northcliff

Major crackdown underway in Cuba.
 The Cuban Patriotic Union observed the one year anniversary of its founding inside Cuba on August 24 suffering a massive crackdown its movement by State Security in which key leaders of the Union were arrested. José Daniel Ferrer García a key leader and founder of the Union had his home assaulted and was arrested on August 23, 2012 and still remains detained as of this hour with scores of other activists. In Santa Clara, Guillermo Fariñas was detained three times in the span of one week.  Former prisoner of conscience Felix Navarro and his daughter Sayli Navarro were arrested on Saturday and released later the same day but political police stole her laptop.

Over the previous two days Thursday, August 23rd and Friday, August 24th more than 60 Cuban dissidents have been arrested reports Hablemos Press and they are still receiving additional reports of detentions. There is a crackdown underway in Cuba that began in the East of the island and has spread westward through the rest of the island. Unfortunately, the international media in Cuba are not reporting on this. Only El Nuevo Herald based in Miami broke the story on Friday interviewing dissidents on the island. Juan O. Tamayo reported:
Cuban dissidents Friday reported a crackdown across the island, with several activists detained to keep them from marking the monthly "Day of Resistance" and the one-year anniversary of one of the most active opposition groups.
Fourteen members of the Cuban Patriotic Union were detained in Havana as they gathered for the anniversary of the group, according to Pedro Arguelles, another member of the Union.
Five other dissidents were reported detained in the central city of Santa Clara during a vigil demanding the release of all political prisoners. Another four were arrested in the eastern town of San Luis and three more in the central town of Placetas.
Police told a dozen dissidents in eastern Camaguey province they would be arrested if they left their homes to attend an opposition gathering, and told seven others gathered in a Placetas home that they would be arrested if they did not leave.
Another 11 Union members gathered in the eastern town of Palma Soriano reported late Friday that they were headed outside to demand the release of all the activists detained. There was no further word from them.
Dissident Osmani Cespedes said more than 30 signs with anti-government slogans such as "Down with Raul" and "Raul Murderer" appeared Friday morning in several spots around the eastern town of Palma Soriano.
The Cuban Patriotic Union was founded a year ago by a group of opposition activists that include Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, a peaceful dissident who served eight years in prison and was freed last year. Based in Palma Soriano, his hometown, the Union has been one of the most active opposition groups in recent months.
Police detained Ferrer himself during a police raid of his home early Thursday morning, and seized several documents, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation noted Friday in an "urgent communique."
Dissidents also have been marking the "Day of Resistance" on the 24th of each month, recalling the Feb. 24, 2010, death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo after a lengthy hunger strike to demand an end to prison abuses.
The dissident Ladies in White, meanwhile, urged democratic governments and human rights organizations to "take urgent and coordinated action to stop the violence unleashed by the Cuban regime" against the women and other peaceful opposition figures.
Their statement alleged that the Raul Castro government "has stepped up the intimidations, the arbitrary jailings and the cruelty against all those who fight to install a democratic system in our country."

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/08/24/163486/dissidents-report-a-crackdown.html#storylink=cpy
The failure of international news bureaus based in Cuba to report on this news is not new. It is also worthwhile to explore why this is taking place. In addition to well grounded fears that serious and tough reporting on the reality in Cuba would lead to having ones press credentials revoked and being expelled from the island there are others that apparently have ideological affinities with the regime. The Calgary Sun's Ezra Levant  reported on one such correspondent by the name of Stephen Wicary of the Globe and Mail:
He’s condemning Cubans who want to flee to freedom — the freedom he himself will presumably exercise one day, probably when he needs free health care and doesn’t want to go to a filthy Cuban hospital. Stephen Wicary is the Walter Duranty of our age. Duranty was a New York Times “reporter” in the 1930s who, like Wicary, went to the Communist country of the U.S.S.R. He was the Times’ bureau chief in Moscow from 1922 to 1936, a time of horrendous massacres, including the man-made Ukrainian famine called the Holodomor, where Stalin starved to death as many as 12 million souls.
What is disappointing is that even when the dictatorship itself makes clear for example that the policy of banning of musicians such as the late Celia Cruz and their music will continue despite Cuba based reports from international press stationed on the island. The reporters do not retract or correct their story. Meanwhile, as they report on the non-story of the Castro regime ending its censorship of musicians like Celia Cruz, Arturo Sandoval and Olga Guillot (which the regime has stated explicitly that it will not do) the Cuba based international journalists remain silent of the island wide crackdown on dissidents.

This is troubling on a number of levels. First this conduct raises not only questions of journalistic ethics but if the best way to learn what is happening in Cuba is not to read the reporters but the tweets from dissidents and persecuted independent journalists on the island who are breaking stories. Secondly, the failure of the international media to explain what is actually happening on the island. The nature of the regime's repressive apparatus and the rising discontent in the populace and the role of civic nonviolent opposition in the island, in the short term, gives the regime a free pass to repress and kill more opposition leaders and in the long term sow the seeds either for continued totalitarian rule or bloody change. A nonviolent movement needs to be able to communicate effectively with both the populace and the international community and the facts on the ground need to be made known in order to properly inform policy makers and Cubans on the island. This is also why independent news broadcasts are needed to break through the regime's information monopoly and get the facts out.

Waiting for Fidel Castro to die in order to cover the story of his death and burial from inside the island at the expense of covering the struggles and realities of the Cuban people is not only short sighted and a disservice to Cubans. It is also bad journalism.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Celia Cruz still banned in Cuba but International media remains silent

Celia Cruz's music remains banned in Cuba by the dictatorship

On August 8, 2012 BBC News reported that Cuba's ban on anti-Castro musicians had been quietly lifted and on August 10 the BBC correspondent in Cuba, Sarah Rainsford, tweeted that she had been given names of forbidden artists by the central committee and the internet was a buzz that the ban on anti-Castro musicians had been quietly lifted. Others soon followed reporting on the news. The stories specifically mentioned Celia Cruz as one of the artists whose music would return to Cuban radio.

Their is only one problem. It is not true. Diario de Cuba reported on August 21, 2012 that Tony Pinelli, a well known musician and radio producer, distributed an e-mail in which Rolando Álvarez, the national director of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT) confirmed that the music of the late Celia Cruz would continue to be banned. The e-mail clearly stated: "All those who had allied with the enemy, who acted against our families, like Celia Cruz, who went to sing at the Guantanamo Base, the ICRT arrogated to itself the right, quite properly, not to disseminate them on Cuban radio "

Olga Guillot's music is still banned on Cuba radio
 Cuba's cultural genocide continues in 2012 and icons of Cuban music such as Celia Cruz and Olga Guillot remain banned from the airwaves and must be discovered on the black market and in the underground. 

The Castro regime has demonstrated a great ability to distract attention from the real news in the country with non-stories such as this one.  It is one of the tools that they have used to remain in power. Unfortunately, when an activist on the island succeeds at exposing the true nature of the regime and exposes the smoke screen of distraction and demands concrete progress they are terrorized, imprisoned, become suddenly ill and die, or die in a car "accident."

Sadly international journalists on the ground in Cuba do not report on these patterns because if they do they are expelled from the country by the dictatorship as many have been over the years for even mild critical reporting of the regime.

Nevertheless, one needs to ask reporters that published articles that the music of Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan would be heard over the airwaves in Cuba now that the regime has confirmed that is not the case will they print a retraction or a clarification? Or will the dictatorship get away with using the press once again?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Speaking truth to power can save your life in Cuba

"What’s past is prologue" - William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 2, Scene I

 @RosaMariaPaya Angel is in danger. Will the world once more accept the rules of the Cuban government?



There are important lessons to be drawn from the past 53 years of totalitarian rule under the Castro brothers but despite this people of good will fail to see the patterns or learn the lessons of history. Our friends in Europe who co-existed with these type of regimes and had in their midst men of the caliber of Václav Havel who understood the power of the truth against a system built on lies.

In the case of Cuba the power of the truth was able to shake the regime from the its very beginnings while going along with the regime’s lies would destroy the complicit liar. It is not easy to hold on to the truth when one has been subjected to the techniques of interrogation, manipulation, torture and blackmail that Cuban state security are experts in. Even democratic governments can be duped into thinking that remaining silent and going along with the lie will benefit an imprisoned citizen or subject.

They could not be more mistaken.

Cuban history provides two parallel examples in which high ranking military officials in the regime were told that if they went along with the lie and pleaded guilty to the charges made against them that they could go home.

Towards the end of 1959, less than a year into the Castro regime, as it was still consolidating power and holding mass executions by firing squad the regime wanted to eliminate Huber Matos. Matos was one of the Commandants of the revolution who had entered Havana at Fidel Castro’s side but he was a fervent anti-communist who had fought Batista’s regime to re-establish democracy in Cuba not install a communist dictatorship. He had tried to resign his position but was repeatedly refused by Fidel Castro. Until the moment came to accuse Huber Matos of conspiracy and treason and set up a summary military trial in order to have him speedily executed. While being held in custody Fidel Castro sent a messenger to Huber Matos to tell him that if he confessed to everything that he had been accused of over the proceeding days and remained silent during the trial that he would not be executed and could go home.


Huber Matos in the above video describes how they asked him to go along with the lie to save himself

Huber Matos rejected the offer and said he would defend himself. He went on to do so at his military trial and was able to shift the opinion of military officers in the room who applauded his courage during the trial. The Castro brothers had planned to execute him but instead, fearing they would make him a martyr, sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Monsignor Agustin Roman in an important essay on the importance of the Cuban dissident movement in Cuba described the role that the truth played in its genesis:
The concept of nonviolent civil resistance is introduced into the history of Cuba. Take the truth as a weapon, placing it in practice in the civic field, what Scripture proposed in the spiritual realm: "the truth shall make you free". Hence its importance at that time and its transcendence for the future of Cuba.
If the truth shall make you free then what does the lie offer? The Ochoa case offers a dramatic answer. Nearly 30 years later in June of 1989, General Arnaldo Ochoa is arrested. He had been declared a “Hero of the Revolution” by Fidel Castro in 1984 but was deemed too dangerous by the dictatorship because he had been contaminated with ideas of Glasnost and Perestroika while visiting the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev era. He was also popular within the ranks of the military due to his exploits in Africa. As was done with Huber Matos he was slandered and accused of conspiracy and treason this time tied to drug smuggling and corruption. He was also approached with the offer that if he confessed to everything he had been accused of and did not mount a vigorous defense that he could go home into retirement.


Confession of General Arnaldo Ochoa during military trial 

Unlike Huber Matos he went along with the lie and pled guilty in an abject fashion reminiscent of the 1930s Stalinist show trials and was executed days later by firing squad on July 13, 1989.

These are two high profile and historic examples but there are many others in which the families of political prisoners have been told that if they remain silent and behave that their loved ones would be sent home to them.

Years and in some cases decades would go by before the family would understand that it was a lie. At the same time those who organized international campaigns and spoke out were able to obtain improved conditions for their imprisoned relatives and in many cases an early release. The most high profile examples of this practice are the Ladies in White. Their husbands, fathers and sons had unjust prison sentences that ranged up to 28 years yet thanks to their efforts all were out of prison within eight years.

The obvious questions raised by the previous examples outlined are why is the truth uttered by an individual so powerful and how can it possibly protect an individual instead of going along with the regime’s desire that one lie?

Václav Havel in his 1978 essay, The Power of the Powerless which he dedicated to the memory of Jan Patocka explained the power of confronting the lies with the truth saying:
As long as appearance is not confronted with reality, it does not seem to be appearance. As long as living a lie is not confronted with living the truth, the perspective needed to expose its mendacity is lacking. As soon as the alternative appears, however, it threatens the very existence of appearance and living a lie in terms of what they are, both their essence and their all-inclusiveness. And at the same time, it is utterly unimportant how large a space this alternative occupies: its power does not consist in its physical attributes but in the light it casts on those pillars of the system and on its unstable foundations.

Living in truth is a powerful shield of protection within a totalitarian regime but it doesn’t mean that one is still not in danger. Jan Patocka, a great Czech philosopher and dissident and Charter 77 signatory, that Havel dedicates his essay to, died after an 11 hour interrogation at the hands of state security in his country on March 13, 1977.

However, once one goes along with the lie their life is in greater danger because as long as the one who has gone along with the lie lives they can still recant and for the dictatorship it is more convenient to silence them. They have the video confession giving their version of events and no one to contradict it.

This is why when Rosa Marie Paya tweets that Angel [Carromero] is in danger she is telling the truth.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Documentary on Chinese Artist and Dissident Returns to Miami

"To live your life in fear is worse than losing your freedom." - Ai Weiwei

Powerful documentary on Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei returns to screens in South Florida this weekend in Miami at the Cosford Cinema and on Miami Beach at the Cinematheque.

If you didn't see the film at the Miami International Film Festival back in March 2012 then be sure not to miss it now. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is a 2012 documentary that follows and gains complete access to Ai Weiwei.

The documentary demonstrates the power of nonviolent action when applied creatively. Protesting the Beijing Olympics, documenting the number of school children killed in the May 12, 2008 Sichuan Quake, and pursuing justice after he was physically assaulted by a Chinese police officer applying creative and artistic sensibilities in an effective manner combined with great courage.

                       AI WEIWEI photographing himself at a Munich hospital in September 2009, with a bag containing fluid that was surgically removed from his skull. Courtesy the artist and Haus der Kunst, Munich.

Ai Weiwei has been beaten, detained, disappeared for 81 days and prosecuted for his outspokenness despite being one of the better known Chinese artists in the world.  He was so badly beaten that he required fluid to be surgically removed from his skull.

Despite this he continues to speak out and make China his home.  He has also received powerful demonstrations of solidarity from the Chinese populace which are seen in the documentary.

He is the son of a prominent Chinese poet who was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution and comes from the ranks of China's elite.



The official website of this documentary offers the following description of its main subject and the film:
Ai Weiwei is China's most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.
AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oswaldo Paya's daughter tells the Castro regime: Leave my family alone!

Rosa Maria Acevedo Payá

Last Friday, a Blue Lada car  of state security with the license plate HS 3133 followed my brother while he drove our VW in the Cerro neighborhood.

The car that followed him was driven by a major in uniform traveling along with two state security officers.

THE GOVERNMENT OF CUBA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE LIFE OF MY FAMILY

-According to other witnesses, a LADA car with three people traveled next to the car where my father and Harold Cepero died.

Why does state security pursue us?

LEAVE MY FAMILY ALONE!

 



Rosa Maria Acevedo Payá


Original Spanish text below taken from the official MCL Oswaldo Paya website

Rosa Maria Acevedo Payá

El viernes pasado, un auto Lada Azul, de la seguridad del estado con chapa HS 3133 seguía a mi hermano mientras conducia nuestra VW por el barrio del Cerro.

El auto que le seguia estaba manejado por un mayor de uniforme  que viajaba junto con dos oficiales de la seguridad del estado

EL GOBIERNO DE CUBA ES RESPONSABLE DE LO QUE  SUCEDA  CON LA VIDA DE MI FAMILIA

-Según otros  testigos, un auto LADA con tres personas viajaba junto al auto donde murieron mi padre y Harold Cepero

¿Por qué nos persigue la seguridad del estado?

¡ DEJEN A MI FAMILIA EN PAZ !

Rosa  Maria Payá Acevedo

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oswaldo Payá's letter to Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa in 1990

Oswaldo Payá sent a letter to Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa in 1990


Eng. Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
Peñón 276 e/ Ayuntamiento y Márquez
Cerro, Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba

October 1, 1990

 To Mr. Lech Walesa,

Dear Brother:

How close you and "Solidarity" have been to us in these years. Receive our fraternal greetings.

I write on behalf of the Christian "Liberation" Movement. We are a Christian and patriotic movement that by peaceful means are working for freedom and democracy in our nation.

We have no legal status, rather we are persecuted and harassed and we have no voice.

Senator Zbigniew Romaszewski sent me the form of participation in the 2nd. International Conference of Human Rights, but the Cuban mail only gave it to me on September 18. I don't think further explanations are needed.

Enclosed is our proclamation and Proposition of National Dialogue that we have made to the Cuban government. It is very difficult for us to disclose our objectives due to difficulties well known to you. I hope this gets to you and that the Poles might know of our struggle inspired by the Gospel.

I cannot conclude without expressing our gratitude to you, the Movement "Solidarity" and all the Polish people that knew how to open the path of freedom for subject peoples.

As Catholics we feel that we are in communion with you and that overcomes the difficulties of communication.

God bless you, your family and all the Polish People.

Fraternally in Christ, 

Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas  Coordinator of the Christian Movement "Liberation"



 Ing. Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
Peñón 276 e/ Ayuntamiento y Márquez Cerro,
Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba La Habana,

1 de Octubre de 1990

 Al Señor Lech Walesa

Querido Hermano:

Cuán cercano nos ha sido Ud. Y “Solidaridad” en estos años. Reciban nuestro saludo fraternal.

Escribo a nombre del Movimiento Cristiano “Liberación”. Somos un movimiento cristiano y patriótico que por vías pacíficas trabajamos por la libertad y la democracia en nuestra Nación.

No tenemos status legal, mas bien somos perseguidos y hostigados y no tenemos voz.

El Senador Zbigniew Romaszewski me envió planilla de participación en la 2da. Conferencia Internacional de Derechos Humanos, pero el correo cubano solo me entregó el 18 de septiembre. Creo que no es necesario más explicaciones.

Le adjunto nuestra proclamación y la Proposición de Diálogo Nacional que hemos hecho al Gobierno cubano. Nos es muy difícil divulgar nuestros objetivos por dificultades que Usted bien conoce, espero que ésta llegue a sus manos y que los polacos puedan conocer de nuestra lucha que se inspira en el Evangelio.

No quiero terminar sin expresar nuestra gratitud a Ud., al Movimiento “Solidaridad” y a todo el pueblo polaco que supo abrir el sendero de libertad para los pueblos sometidos.

Como católicos nos sentimos en comunión con ustedes y eso supera las dificultades de comunicación.

Dios le bendiga a Usted, a su familia y a todo el Pueblo Polaco.

Fraternalmente en Cristo,

Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
Coordinador del Movimiento Cristiano “Liberación”

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cholera, Dengue and Totalitarianism in Cuba

A dangerous combination especially for dissidents.

Castro's Ministry of the Interior and a Cholera bacterium


Heavy rains over Cuba and reports over twitter of a dengue outbreak and the usual lack of official channels providing adequate information makes evident the need for a free press to report on what is actually happening with regards to the outbreak of contagious diseases.

The record of the current dictatorship in Cuba demonstrates that it is willing to cover up epidemics and even lock up doctors trying to warn of rising body counts as was done to Dr. Desi Mendoza in 1997 during a Dengue epidemic.

In October of 2011, although Dengue is a well known disease in Cuba, it was supposedly misdiagnosed in the case of Ladies in White leader Laura Pollán and was a contributing factor in her unnecessary death.

Now in the midst of a Cholera outbreak in the interior of Cuba one of the most prominent dissidents in the island Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was killed on July 22, 2012 along with youth leader Harold Cepero under circumstances that Oswaldo Paya's family say are far from clear. They are demanding that an international organization conduct a transparent investigation to arrive at the truth. Oswaldo and Harold were traveling with two foreigners into the area where the cholera outbreak had occurred most likely to learn what was really happening when the supposed "accident" happened.

Cholera and Dengue on their own are terrible killers but when combined with a secretive totalitarian dictatorship, that claims health care as one of its achievements, the danger is multiplied. Not only do doctors, victims, and seekers of the truth have to worry about contagious diseases but also the state security apparatus imprisoning or murdering them.

For the dictatorship some secrets are worth killing for especially if it impacts their international legitimacy that is in part based on the propaganda fabrication that their health care system is one of the best in the world.

It is dangerous combination of factors for those in Cuba seeking to report the truth.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dr. Óscar Elías Biscet launches online news magazine

"You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him." Matthew 5.38-41



Dr. Óscar Biscet  launches online news magazine Revealing Cuba [Revelando Cuba] on August 8, 2012 with interviewing Baptist pastor and blogger Mario Félix Lleonart who is a resident of Taguayabon, Cuba. Inspired by the Bible he proposes a Christianity that liberates from all that oppresses and overwhelms. He also cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer as one of his influences. Bonhoeffer was a twentieth century exemplar of Christian nonviolence.




Video above has subtitles in English.

Communiqué from the family of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

On August 1, 2012 the family of  Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas issued the following statement to the press. It was written by his widow Ofelia Acevedo.  Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero died on July 22, 2012 in a car accident under circumstances that have generated concern that it may have been a premeditated act by State Security. Below is an English translation.

Ofelia Acevedo and her late husband Oswaldo Payá


Havana, August 1, 2012

Communiqué from the family of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.



Today is 10 days past the event that killed my husband, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, National Coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement and the young Harold Cepero Escalante, a member of that movement.
The event was explained over national television in Cuba, which is something unusual in that fatal traffic accidents happen every day and have never been given this television coverage.

I will not go into detail about the technical analysis done according to the official version. I'm not an expert, although one does not need to be one to question it. I want to clarify that I learned on television of how the event occurred because I had only had a very brief verbal version of the event given by a criminologist, Major Sanchez, when he turned over my husband's body. I expressed to him that I did not believe in that version and needed to interview the surviving witnesses. I was never informed by any authority of the death of my husband. Yesterday, July 31 at 8: 45 pm, 10 days after the death of Oswaldo and Harold, I was visited by two officers of the Centre for Criminal Investigation and Operations with a subpoena in my name for today at 11am, with the aim to "ventilate issues of civil liability derived from the accident."


Video statement by Ofelia Acevedo on July 27, 2012 (In Spanish)

I as the wife of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in representation of the family living inside and outside of Cuba, want to declare.

We do not accept the explanation of the event televised because:

1. It is presented by the same organs of State Security of the government that have threatened to kill him multiple times through their agents over the years in which they have defamed, insulted, watched, discredited with television campaigns inside and outside of Cuba, the same ones that have placed microphones over our bed in telephone boxes, the same ones knowing that her mother had cancer, visited to cowardly intimidate her, and did not allow their children who live outside of Cuba to visit, which forbade my oldest son , a 24 year old student from visiting his aunt on holiday in Spain last year.
They do not allow anyone from our family to exit or enter Cuba. They are the same ones who intimidate our neighbors, my husband’s co-workers, my brothers in the Christian community, and those who I need to hire to make repairs in my house. That go to the centers of study of my children to alert their peers to avoid relating to them. They are the same ones that break into hospitals, intimidate doctors every time my children have any health problems. They are the same ones that have attacked my house with mobs that they bring in from other places, painted the facade of my home with offensive slogans, and have stained my door with red paint simulating blood. They have surrounded the walls of the neighborhood with signs full of phrases of threats and hate.
They are the same ones who on several occasions have loosened the nuts on the wheels of our car while parked and knowing that the whole family and even friends were traveling. Only last June 2 while he and I were traveling in our car (1964 VW station wagon), to my mother's house in La Lisa traveling on the road of El Cerro and having practically surpassed the intersection of Rancho Boyeros Avenue were impacted by an old American car in the rear right wheel of our vehicle with such force that rocked our car, my husband could not control it and after sliding with only two wheels on the left side turned on the opposite path being trapped inside and covered with broken windshield glass. Oswaldo was wounded in the left arm by the elbow and nothing happened to me.

They are the same ones that have bullied and threatened to kill members of the Movement and their families. Today they have imprisoned Yosvany Melchior [the young son of Rosa María Rodríguez, a member of the Movement] , serving twelve years in prison for a crime he did not commit. All of this in order that they leave the Christian Liberation Movement.

I do not believe the official version:

1. Because my husband Oswaldo Payá was distinguished by his sense of responsibility without limit towards all people, especially those associated with him. He would never let the chauffeur driving the car that they were traveling in to be speeding. His friends and those who know him know that I speak the truth when I say this. He knew the risk to his life each day in Cuba.

2. Because I received the news from Madrid of the supposed car accident that my husband was traveling at three eighteen on the afternoon of Sunday, July 22 where they communicated with me, "carrying four people, only three in the hospital, we do not know about one. Two friends, one of them unconscious. They were hit and removed from the road. Do you know who the other two where? The whereabouts of one of them is unknown. "

3. Why was I not allowed to meet with the Swedish boy and still have not allowed me to meet with the Spaniard who were survivors of the event.

4. For all these antecedents and information that has come to us about what happened in Granma, my family requests to international institutions an investigation independent of the Cuban government on the facts about what happened.

5. I want to say that I'm very proud to have shared 26 years of life with an extraordinary man and of the family that we founded. He had the sorrow of not having been able to devote to his family all the time that he wanted but his dedication to service led him always to work for the common good. All his intelligence, intellectual ability was in constant search for ways for the people to ascend to their rights, he said: Neither the state nor the market can dominate society, or be above the people's decisions, or of the freedom and dignity of persons.

Now we must try to direct our life without the physical presence of Oswaldo. It will be very hard, but for those who live by the faith we know that he will continue to protect us, to always be in our midst.

Thanks for listening.

Take action by signing the petition requesting a transparent and independent international investigation into the deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. The regime in Cuba has a long track record of this type of behavior. Others such as Lech Walesa have joined the call for getting at the truth of what happened.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We will not be silenced, and we will not stop seeking the truth

"When a truth is not given complete freedom, freedom is not complete." - Vaclav Havel


The following statement was read by Oswaldo Paya's daughter in a press conference in Cuba on August 1, 2012. It has been translated to English below and offers important information and new questions surrounding the deaths on July 22, 2012 of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

Rosa María Payá Acevedo and her mother Ofelia Acevedo


Words read at press conference by Rosa María Payá Acevedo

I do not intend today to give another version of what happened. We are not at this moment accusing anyone. The facts that I will continue to relate were read by Captain Fulgencio Medina, criminal instructor, in a room at Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Hospital in Bayamo on the evening of Sunday July 22. I will not make clarifications on how these reports have come into our hands. We do not want to subject to the pressures of state security, the people who in solidarity with our family have sent us this news.

As we have been told, Captain Fulgencio Medina, criminal instructor, reading the witness statements of the events that took the life of my father, and of Harold, told the following to everyone in one of the halls of the hospital:

The captain said he would tell how it happened, reading the statements of the witnesses, saying:

Witnesses of the bike and of the tractor said that there was a red Lada traveling parallel to the wrecked car.

In a moment the wrecked car goes ahead of all, the bicycle, the tractor and the red Lada and at that moment comes the change of pavement, of the pavement to the embankment.

The cyclist says he only sees the dust when the car drops (but it seemed normal).

The individual in the tractor comments that it seems that something happened. The officer says that another tractor was coming from the front but apparently the road was wide enough and the tractor was far enough to cause any reaction in Angel. There was no danger of impact.

Those in the red Lada come to the rescue, in the words of the witnesses on the bicycle and in the tractor.

The officer said that witnesses say that when the persons in the Lada approached to help the Spaniard , he reacted saying: Who are you and why are you doing this? First they take out the Spaniard and there was one complaining (which apparently was Harold), but he had a very sore leg and was touching his chest, as if it hurt a lot. With the other they do not do anything because they say they touched him and realized he was dead.

They first removed the two foreigners, and the red Lada takes out a cell phone that they had and say: send an ambulance over here there has been an accident. At that moment a blue van arrives and some of the injured are placed on it and leave for the hospital.

Receive a call from the girl and say they don’t know who the cell phone belongs to because everything was a mess. First attended by a traffic officer and then by a legal doctor.

Fulgencio Medina said he knew the daughter had called because the legal doctor who had been in the ambulance answered.

This ends the information that has come to us about what Captain Fulgencio Medina said that evening in that room with other officers and all others who were there.

It seems to us very strange:

1. That a legal doctor would arrive in the ambulance.

2. That in none of the official versions is this red Lada mentioned and the people traveling in it.

3. But for the people traveling in the red Lada who could then have called the ambulance.

4. The reaction, according to witnesses, Angel had at the time of being rescued.

5. Who and how was the premature diagnosis of the death of my father made.

We have received other information, including:

We have information that the ambulance was requested by a lieutenant colonel and that in an ambulance they took Harold to the hospital, but first made a stop in a children's hospital.

We have also information that the doctor who attended Harold (called ¨ The Kid ¨, son of Dr. Perez Profet) expressed contempt for him. And he told the other doctors and nurses that these people were bringing drugs to Santiago and to plant bombs.

This raises questions about the care my friend received in that hospital.

We have been informed that Angel arrived at the hospital accompanied by an officer who said he was an eyewitness to the accident, and that there Angel said twice that the car had been rammed from behind.

I ask myself, if this officer was a witness:

What was he doing there?

Why not transfer the injured in his car?

If it was he who called, how did he know the hospital phone?

Would he be one of those in the red Lada?

I also have doubts regarding the technical condition of the car carrying my father and Harold.

To our friends, people who represented us that day in the hospital until my mother could get there, they would not let them see the body of my father until after 8 pm. They told us that the corpse had a syringe placed at the top of the leg, a shirt, … and shoes and that at that time the body was still without treatment, storage, or refrigeration.

About Harold’s state, a physician told them that the boy was going to die because he was brain dead. This data, the latter, does not coincide with the official version of the cause of death of Harold Cepero and is also very strange because witnesses say they saw Harold conscious according to information we received about the words read by Captain Fulgencio Medina.

Our friends did not have access to the survivors until after Angel was sedated so that they could never talk to him. With Aron they could barely identify themselves because they do not speak English.

Aron, Angel and I met Friday afternoon and talked, as three young people converse with social concerns without interfering agendas and money involved.

My father faced the power of a state, a totalitarian state with 53 years experience. And that state is dropping all its force against a family, my family for many years now. Once more I fear for the lives of my brothers, my mother and my whole family. I reiterate that I hold the government responsible for the physical integrity of the members of my family.

We have the support of many within and outside Cuba, we thank you deeply. On the other hand, we know that these events have become a matter of state and we know that sometimes between states there are pacts and silence, but while others remain silent we will not be silenced, and we will not stop seeking the truth even if it means remaining alone. My father, the Christian Liberation Movement and my family have seen ourselves alone before. We do not fear solitude. We know, because we seem to have been touching it in recent days, that only evil fears the truth.

August 1, 2012

Original Spanish text available here. Take action by signing the petition requesting a transparent and independent international investigation into the deaths of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. The regime in Cuba has a long track record of this type of behavior. Others such as Lech Walesa have joined the call for getting at the truth of what happened.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Amnesty International calls on Castro regime to end harassment of human rights defenders

Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action for José Daniel Ferrer García on August 1, 2012 following his detention on July 30, 2012. He was released a day later on August 2nd. Below is Amnesty's analysis of what is taking place and demand for change.

Cuba must stop ‘cat-and-mouse game’ with political activists

José Daniel Ferrer García has been detained on  numerous 
occasions for his peaceful activism in Cuba. © UNPACU
 by Amnesty International

 The Cuban authorities must end their ongoing harassment of political and human rights activists, Amnesty International said today after a former prisoner of conscience was released following his latest arrest and detention in a police station for 36 hours.

José Daniel Ferrer García, coordinator of the organization Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU), was set free on Wednesday, two days after police arrested him in the eastern province of Holguín.

He was not charged with any crime. His family had no idea of his whereabouts until he was returned home by the authorities on Wednesday afternoon.

Ferrer’s latest arrest follows three days he spent in detention after being arrested in Havana in February 2012 and a 27-day detention for “public disorder” in Santiago de Cuba two months later. These repeated, short detentions are in line with a pattern of harassment by the Cuban authorities against UNPACU members and other political dissidents.

“The latest arrest and short-term detention of José Daniel Ferrer García continues the Cuban authorities’ cat-and-mouse game with political dissidents and human rights activists,” said James Burke, Campaigner on the Caribbean at Amnesty International.

“This practice – used as a form of harassment and intimidation to repress legitimate, peaceful activism and freedom of expression – must come to a halt.”

UNPACU was formed in mid-2011 as an umbrella group of Cuban dissident organizations in and around the province of Santiago de Cuba who seek democratic change by non-violent means.

Since its creation, the Cuban authorities have used arbitrary detention and other measures to harass and intimidate its members. One member, Wilman Villar Mendoza – whom Amnesty International named a prisoner of conscience – died last January on a hunger strike to protest his four-year prison sentence after a summary trial.

UNPACU coordinator Ferrer García served eight years of a 25-year jail sentence for his political activism before being granted conditional release in March 2011.

He was among 75 Cuban dissidents arrested during the so-called “Black Spring” crackdown in March 2003. Amnesty International adopted all 75 as prisoners of conscience after they were jailed for the peaceful expression of critical opinions of the government.

Ferrer García was among those targeted in part for his participation in the Varela Project, which called for a national referendum on democratic reforms in Cuba.

Following his conditional release last year, police in Santiago de Cuba re-arrested Ferrer García on 2 April 2012 along with 42 other activists – most of them UNPACU members.

All the rest were set free, but police held Ferrer García on a “public disorder” charge for a further 27 days, before releasing him on the condition that he renounce his political activism.

Following his release, José Daniel Ferrer García told Amnesty International that the authorities had arrested him to prevent him from travelling to the capital, Havana where he had planned to hold meetings with other government critics who are peacefully seeking greater respect for civil and political rights in Cuba.

He said the ongoing campaign of harassment would not deter him or his colleagues from continuing with their activism: “Our goal in Cuba is to establish true rule of law in Cuba where freedom of expression, freedom of association – all fundamental freedoms – are respected, and until we do so, we will continue our peaceful struggle.”

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/cuba-must-stop-cat-and-mouse-game-political-activists-2012-08-02

Cuba's Day of National Rebellion: August 5, 1994

August 5, 1994 in Havana, Cuba during "El Maleconazo" uprising
18 years ago today the word "liberty"was chanted through the streets of Havana, Cuba by thousands of Cubans spontaneously gathered in protest against the dictatorship and desiring freedom.

Part of the reason that they were out there was the "13 de Marzo"tugboat massacre that had taken place less than three weeks earlier just six miles from the Malecon in Havana. Family members and survivors bravely spoke out and the news of what happened had gotten out.



Thousands of Cubans beginning in the early hours of August 5, 1994 took to the streets shouting for freedom and continued throughout the day.

The response by the regime was violent repression and police shooting at unarmed civilians and beating them down with night sticks. After things were under control the dictator Fidel Castro appeared on the scene.

State security agent with gun drawn during August 5 uprising

The end result was another mass exodus of Cubans. Eighteen years later the Cuban punk rock band Porno para Ricardo recalls those days of protest and frustration in their song "El Maleconazo". The video begins with a call for more Maleconazos.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

International Day of Solidarity with civil society of Belarus

“The solidarity of the shaken can say ‘no’ to the measures of mobilization that make the state of war permanent. … The solidarity of the shaken is built up in persecution and uncertainty: that is its front line, quiet, without fanfare or sensation even there where this aspect of the ruling Force seeks to seize it.” - Jan Patočka

"We wish to express our solidarity with all those who suffer from any form of oppression and injustice, and with those in the world who have been silenced or marginalized." - Oswaldo Paya





In the midst of the pain and sorrow surrounding the untimely deaths of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero it is still necessary to remember those in other parts of the world suffering repression at the hands of tyrants. Today, August 4, 2012 has been set aside as the International Day of Solidarity with Civil Society of Belarus.

This is what Oswaldo would do if he were physically with us today because he believed in the power of human solidarity and the importance to demonstrate it and apply it for the sake of humanity itself. Oswaldo Paya placed solidarity into the modern day context observing: "The talk today is of globalization, but we must state that unless there is global solidarity, not only human rights but also the right to remain human will be jeopardized."

August 4th, 2011 is the day selected because a prominent dissident and human rights defender Ales Bialiatski was arrested on that day. Ales is a leading figure in the defense of human rights as chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", and vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights. It also important to remember the crucial role played by the arts in civil society to create spaces of freedom.

Furthermore, the tyrant of Belarus visited the tyrant of Cuba in March of 2012 and reached out to cooperate with a fellow repressive dictator. This adds another reason as to why free Cubans and Belarusians need to reach out in solidarity with one another in confronting their shared challenges to obtain freedom.


The organizers of the event published a statement explaining the significance of the day stating that their objective is to attract attention to the human rights situation in Belarus, and to express solidarity with the Belarusian citizens fighting for their civil rights under permanent pressure and harassment. I joined together with other friends in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Belarus's independence from the Soviet Union on August 25, 2011. Today my prayers go out to Belarus's civil society and two Cubans who died under mysterious circumstances on July 22, 2012. At the same time reproducing the important document below released by the organizers of the solidarity day.




Manifest

International Day of Solidarity
with civil society and human rights movements in Belarus

We, the activists of civil and human rights organizations from various countries around the world declare our initiative to establish International Day of Solidarity with the civil society and human rights movement in Belarus on the 4th of August.
Being in the heart of Europe, Belarus is the only country of the continent, where the death penalty is enforced and where the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply.
Even in such conditions, civil society in Belarus is one of the most powerful in the post-Soviet area. Every day, Belarusian human rights defenders provide legal support to dozens of people. The lawyers from Belarus win cases in the Human Rights Committee and other UN bodies. Directors, artists, writers and musicians continue to create. The Belarusian rock-band "Lyapis Trubetskoy" is known all around the world for their songs and civil position, despite the fact that at home they are included in the "black list" of banned artists.
Politicians of our countries criticize the authorities of Belarus, then they sit down to talks; they impose sanctions, but keep on trading; they threaten Belarusian authorities with isolation, at the same time maintaining relations. But leave it to politicians!
In contrast to politicians, we – civil society activists, human rights defenders and simply concerned citizens – consider it important to express our support to the Belarusian civil society, members of which carry on promoting and protecting human rights standards and the rule of law, offering new ideas and initiatives, helping people to meet, talk, write and create. And all of this is taking place in spite of the systematic violations of fundamental human rights: freedom of assembly, association and expression – the foundations, without which civil society can not exist.
We want to draw attention to the situation in Belarus and to show our solidarity with those people who fight for their freedom under constant pressure and persecution. On this day, we’d like the attention of mass media, news agencies and citizens of our countries being as much as possible attracted to what is going on with civil society in this European country, to its problems and difficulties. We want our colleagues in Belarus feel our support to help them go further with strengthening human rights and the rule of law in their country.
On this day - August 4, 2011 - Ales Bialiatski was arrested. He is one of the leading Belarusian human rights defenders, the head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and the vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights. For many people this moment marked a new phase of pressure on human rights defenders and civil activists in Belarus, where massive human rights violations had become common practice.
We have established this day not to support any political opposition. On this day, one should not hear calls to overthrow the existing political regime in Belarus, but calls to comply with international obligations in the area of human rights, undertaken by Belarus.
We believe that freedom has no boundaries. We think that the situation in Belarus should be considered as a challenge for civil society all across Europe and Eurasia. We are convinced that all of this area can not be considered the territory of freedom, as long as there are countries (like Belarus) where freedom is restricted.
We believe that while there is at least one state that easily and with impunity shows disregard for the opinion of its own citizens as well as international norms and principles, such a scenario will be possible in other countries, authorities of which continue seeking new ways of how to silence voices of their critics and opponents, and quickly adopt the "worst practices" of their neighbors. In fact, the only thing we can oppose to it – is our international solidarity.
We will observe this day every year, until the situation of civil society in Belarus changes: until  its authorities put an end to imprisoning people for human rights activities, until there is a guarantee of fundamental human rights: freedom of expression, assembly and association.