Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cuba undergoes its 2nd Universal Periodic Review before the UN Human Rights Council today

"Yet is it far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness." - W.L. Watkins 

Human Rights Activists calls on Human Rights Council to analyze repression in Cuba

The state of Cuba undergoes its second quadrennial evaluation at the 16th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council today beginning at 2:30pm and ending at 6:00pm Geneva time and can be viewed here in real time. It is a quadrennial review conducted between states. The Cuban dictatorship is doing everything possible to circumvent and subvert the process.

The UPR itself is a peer review which means that only states can participate and as the Heritage Foundation has observed it can turn the process into a "mutual praise society" for repressive regimes. In addition to this, the Cuban government flooded the non-governmental organization submissions with GONGOS (Governmental Non-Governmental Organizations) to subvert the summary prepared by the Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights of NGO submissions.

The totalitarian state in Cuba controls all mass media and is churning out propaganda to cover up its dismal human rights record. Finally, although Cubans on the island do not have easy access to the internet the dictatorship is engaged in a full out offensive in social media and twitter. Nevertheless it will fail in 2013 as it did during its first review in 2009 because the truth does get out despite all of the Cuban regime's desperate maneuvers. You can play a role in frustrating the regime's designs by tweeting about human rights violations in Cuba using hash-tags such as #UPR16, #CubaUPR, and #Cuba #UPR along with concrete, well documented information on outrages committed over the past four years. Think about it for a moment, just a partial list of the activists who have died extrajudicially over the past four years: Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Juan Wilfredo Soto García, Laura Pollán, Wilman Villar Mendoza, Harold Cepero Escalante and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. Things are getting worse not better. The trends are troubling for human rights defenders.

The Universal Periodic Review has one feature that is a threat to dictatorships and that is that anyone who produces a report can submit it for consideration to the Office of the High Commissioner and free Cubans in the island have done just that and succeeded in breaking through the regime information monopoly.

Courageous men and women in Cuba have documented and denounced human rights abuses and the systematic pattern of abuse. Reports were prepared in 2012 by international human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Centrist Democrat International and inside of Cuba by the Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos de Cuba [Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs of Cuba], Coalición Central Opositora [Central Opposition Coalition] and the Movimiento Rosa Parks [Rosa Parks Movement], among others and from the Cuban diaspora the Coalition of Cuban American Women and the Cuban Democratic Directorate.

It is an opportunity once every four years to place Cuba under the world spotlight while the media is paying attention and seize the opportunity not only for states, but for independent civil society to analyze the human rights situation in Cuba and chip away at the regime's wall of impunity.

Earlier this year at the United Nations Human Rights Council two members of the Christian Liberation Movement, Regis Iglesias and Rosa María Payá were able to address the Council and demand an investigation into the deaths of their founder and their youth leader.

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