Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cuba is a dictatorship that brutalizes blind dissenters: Time to hold it accountable

Note to UPR 30 and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights: Cuba is a dictatorship.

Blind Rights Defender Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva
The dictatorship in Cuba systematically violates all human rights both in law and in action. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of all persons to to travel into and out of their own country. The regime in Cuba does not recognize that right and treats it as a priviledge to be granted or taken away at the whim of the dictatorship. The concerns raised by the Office of the High Commissioner calls attention to the problem but with diplomatic language that minimizes the true extent of the problem.

Will the Office of the High Commissioner speak out against the physical assault of Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, a blind human rights defender, on January 9, 2014 at 10:30am?  Together with his wife, Tania Maceda Guerra, and six other activists in Ciego de Avila, his home town, he was distributing "Voz Avileña", a dissident publication. Juan Carlos described what happened next.
I carried in my hand a copy of the newsletter "The Avileña Voice." There was a very large state security operation and they demanded that we give them the newsletter. When I refused and we eight activists sat on the ground, and began to shout, " Freedom", "Long live human rights" and "Down with Fidel" military troops reinforcements arrived and they beat us up. We were taken by car to the First police headquarters. During the trip a police officer pulled my wife's hair and bit her hands. I responded to the police officer biting him and then the official gave me a savage beating to the point that it made ​​me lose consciousness. They hit me so many times that I have both the right foot and index finger of the left hand broken. I have aches and bruises throughout my entire body . To all the activists who were with me Junior Ortega Rivero, Daniel Camacho Marchena, Daniel Martínez, Alberto Pla Risco, Quintana Sarría and others that were with me, all were violently beaten and dragged away and were also detained. Without any explanation we were all released around 3:00pm in the afternoon.
Ignorance is not an excuse for the Human Rights Council. On September 16, 2014 Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva spoke before the Council and denounced the brutal beating he and the other activists suffered placing it in the larger context. Seven months later another Cuban human rights defender, Sirley Avila Leon, was the victim of a machete attack that cost her a hand and the use of both knees.

Allowing the Castro regime to operate with impunity is unacceptable and there needs to be a cost for the criminal actions taken.  Time to indict Raul Castro.

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