Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ladies in White leader Berta Soler threatened with unjust trial for "resistance"


Berta Soler
Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, who has suffered physical assaults in the past, has had her passport taken and is being charged with "resistance" and faces a regime show trial following her detention this past Sunday, May 22, 2016, during a nonviolent protest.

Berta was given the court docket number 30-260 of 2016.  She explains the motive behind the regime's action: "What they are seeking is to have power of control over me so that I can not leave the country temporarily." She refused to sign the sign the indictment drafted by the police. Nor was the document handed to Berta Soler.

However, the activist said to Cubanet, "I will continue to live my life normally as always," and further noted that if this leads her to jail that she will "go as a prisoner of conscience, because I'm sure I have not done anything."

"These are the images of arrest (last Sunday), and I did not raise my hand for anything," and Berta Soler added that this action would not stop her from trying to travel outside of the country if she needed to raising the challege: Let Immigration at the airport tell me that I cannot travel."

On May 24, 2016 the streets surrounding the headquarters of the Ladies in White were blocked by state security agents to prevent members and friends of the Ladies in White from attending their monthly literary tea.

Blocking streets around Ladies in White headquarters (Angel Moya)

This needs to be placed in the current context in Cuba and the history of her movement. 
Repression is worsening in Cuba and the Ladies in White are not exempt from this trend. Earlier this month Rosa Escalona, member of “The Ladies in White”, a human rights group in Cuba, along with her husband and three sons were subjected to a savage beating by Castro agents. All four family members suffered great bodily injury, with her husband Alberto Pedro Freire Leiva being the most critically injured. This unprovoked attack took place Sunday, May 8th in the city of Holguín, Cuba. Rosa made the following statement by way of telephone to the Cuban Democratic Directorate:

“Yesterday I was detained as I was heading to church. I was once again threatened by members of the State Security who stated that they would “finish with me and my family”. Two men came out of Lenin Hospital with iron bars and proceeded to attack us. My 25 year old son’s head was broken in two places and he received a skull fracture, my two small sons received blows throughout their bodies and I sustained direct blows to my ribs and a broken head. My husband, Alberto Pedro Freire Leiva is currently in grave condition and it is not known if he will survive. His spleen was broken in two places and as a result, he has had massive internal bleeding with more than 1,000 millimeters of blood throughout his abdomen. My son Yunior Alberto Freire Escalona is under observation in neurosurgery where he might need to be operated. During the attack, one of the men disclosed knowing that I was a member of the “Ladies in White” and a counter revolutionary, he warned me to be very careful of him because when he catches me on the street again he will run me and my sons over with a truck.”
Lady in White Daisy Cuello Basulto denounced that her 21 year old daughter was arrested, violently stripped and forced to urinate in front of police officers in a police station in Cotorro. The 21 year old was arrested along with her mom and other family on September 27, 2015 while on their way to attend the Sunday march of the Ladies in White. The young woman was locked in a cell with a strong smell of hydrochloric acid and now suffers from a sore throat. "She has a fever and feels very bad," reported her mother.

The founding leader of the movement Laura Inés Pollán Toledo died under suspicious circumstances in 2011 in the midst of a wave of suspicious deaths of opposition leaders. Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a Cuban medical doctor and human rights defender, called it a case of purposeful medical neglect.

Demonstrating support for the Ladies in White, even outside of Cuba, is not without risk. On May 22, 2010 Norwegian media reported that Cuban diplomat, Carmen Julia Guerra, insulted, threatened, and bit a young Norwegian woman, Alexandra Joner age 19, of Cuban descent on her mother's side while she was across the street from the Cuban embassy in Oslo. She was filming a non-violent demonstration in solidarity with the Ladies in White and in remembrance of martyred Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo. The main national newspaper in Norway, Aftenposten,  photographed the young girl with bite marks on her hand.

It is important to recall how the Ladies in White came into existence in 2003 in the midst of the Black Cuban Spring. Days after one of the worse crackdown's on Cuba's national civic movement that began on March 18, 2003 the wives, sisters and daughters of these unjustly imprisoned human rights defenders formed the Ladies in White. An association of women seeking the release of their unjustly imprisoned husbands, sons, brothers and fathers.

In addition to their weekly marches demanding the release of Cuban political prisoners the Ladies in White would also gather together for a monthly "literary tea." Each Lady in White would participate reading letters from their jailed husbands, poems, and literature with the objective of raising their spirits. During these gatherings there are moments of laughter and also of tears.

Amnesty international has denounced the climate of fear and repression directed by regime officials against the Ladies in White. This movement has also been recognized internationally with important honors.The Ladies in White were awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2005 and were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

1 comment:

  1. No matter how many cruise ships or Hollywood movie shoots go to Cuba, there will be no peace until the Castros are gone!