Friday, June 13, 2014

Human Rights Defender arbitrarily detained and tortured in Cuba

 Handcuffed human rights defender choked unconscious, injected with unknown substance and threatened by State Security agents.

"Antúnez" and Yris Pérez Aguilera arrested June 11, 2014
The news of the release of Jorge Luis Garcia  "Antúnez" and Yris Pérez Aguilera on the morning of June 13, 2014 was widely reported and is a welcome relief to many around the world, but the testimony of the Cuban human rights defender and pro-democracy activist raised new concerns about the mistreatment he and his wife received and the threats made by State Security in the midst of a nationwide crackdown that saw dozens of civil society activists arrested.

Both Jorge Luis Garcia  "Antúnez" and Yris Pérez Aguilera were arrested in the midst of a raid on their home two days earlier at 6:00am on June 11, 2014 in Placetas, Cuba. Jorge Luis described how he experienced the raid on his home and his arbitrary detention:
"The day they raided my home ... I was asleep with my wife, I heard a sound I thought it was the dog or my niece from next door. I feel a rush of people entering my house. I feel everything thrown around. They jump on my bed, handcuffed me, and gagged my mouth. They did the same to my wife.  I saw nothing more."

 The Cuban Democratic Directorate in its press release made known that "among the State Security officers Antúnez and his wife were able to identify are Eric Francis Aquino Yera and Mario Moré Perez." Both agents participated in the cruel treatment against both activists at the State Security headquarters in the city of Santa Clara. These officials told Antúnez that the search and arrest were due to the growing number of anti-government posters appearing in Placetas, and that he had become an obstacle to the "normalization" of relations between the regime of Cuba and the United States. Antúnez also reported that they had orders from the Minister of the Interior "to bust me up". The pro-democracy activist described what happened once they got to headquarters and the explanation from the regime officials of the why for the raid, ransacking and arrests: 
Arriving there they apparently pretended kindness where they took me, after a while they took me out, the same officer who interviewed me the other time started to question me. It was terrible, that the national leadership of the country, of the revolution, was tired of my misdeeds, that this phase I was encouraging, they would not tolerate anymore. They told me that for three things we assaulted the house: First:  Because you are inciting propaganda distribution, Placetas has become a real chalkboard. Second: Because you have become the spokesman here in Cuba in combination with the extreme right of the exile  as a barrier to the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. [Third:] We know that you head here in Cuba this new tendency that is causing us problems, that the revolution may have a recovery and for your fault and many recalcitrants in and out of Cuba that has not been achieved. And fourth, we are alerting you that have orders of the Interior Minister to bust you up each time that a poster appears in Placetas and if you do not give up your position. 
Place yourself in their shoes for a moment. You and your wife have been awoken at 6:00am in the midst of a raid on your home by Cuban state security who leap upon you while you are still groggy and half asleep and quickly place your hands behind your back handcuffing them and interrogating you. Antúnez went on to describe what happened next:
It begins and he says: "Something to Declare?" and I said, "Yes, I will not shut up, and I will not leave." The people of the Special Brigade appear and they say "bring him" and I think they are bringing someone as a witness, and a man appears in a white coat who wordlessly jumps me and places me in a choke hold. My hands are in handcuffs behind my back. “And what did you tell me?[ and he responds ] I will not shut up, and I am not leaving! ... When I came to, I was in an open air prison cell exposed to the sun, thrown on the floor, and they had given an injection "for me to be revived." That session they did to me twice. The second time they threw me against the doors of the offices, and they told me: No more magic for you!"
Despite having his home trashed again, being arbitrarily detained for two days, and brutally beaten up and choked into unconsciousness the leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance Front former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia  "Antúnez" makes known his defiance:   
"Now more than ever I stand by my slogan “I will not shut up, and I will not leave." I know that what the tyranny is worried about is that I won't go away, and will continue talking. Today I alert the world that my life is more in danger than ever because if I was accused of being the instigator of propaganda, then I will continue being the instigator, because information is vital in the fight, and if they demand freedom for the five, I'm within my rights to demand freedom for Ivan (Fernandez Depestre), (Armando)  Sosa Fortuny, freedom for Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez. If they think that stealing from me in my house will break my spirit, then take me back there, apply it again, knock the air out of me again and murder me because today more than ever I scream " Boitel and Zapata Live” and all that I know how to shout!"  
Global Post reported on June 11, 2014 that "according to the Council of Human Rights Reporters of Cuba, in May Cuban authorities arrested more than 1,000 people for political reasons, and so far this year around 5,000 people have been taken into custody on the Communist-ruled island, double the number of arbitrary arrests made during all of 2013."

The Cuban Democratic Directorate reported that as of June 13, 2014 when they released their press release that Santa Clara activists Luis Enrique Santos Caballero and Yandis Martín Peraza who were detained June 12, 2014 and Manuel José Guerra Cruz, detained in Santa Cruz del Sur.

Below in Spanish is Antúnez's statement shortly after his release from custody on the morning of June 13, 2014.

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