Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Independent Cuban journalist sentenced to a year in prison for committing journalism.

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986
Independent journalist Roberto Quiñones faces year in prison.
Today at the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC a son demanded his father’s freedom. Roberto de Jesús Quiñones faces a one year prison sentence for exercising his fundamental rights. He is an independent journalist, attorney, Catholic lay person, and family man. His son, Roberto José Quiñones Castro, is a university student in Virginia who is working his way through school.

Last week on August 7th Roberto de Jesus Quiñones was sentenced to a year in prison in a rigged trial. Today his son brought a letter to the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC calling for his dad’s freedom.

Roberto José Quiñones with letter in hand protests dad's sentence
His father was unjustly imprisoned for five years for being an independent attorney in Cuba in 1998. No longer able to practice as a lawyer upon his release, he became an independent journalist.
On April 22, 2019 Roberto de Jesús Quiñones was beaten up for covering the trial of a religious couple sentenced to prison for homeschooling their kids. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported on April 24th what had happened:
On April 22, at around 2:00 p.m., Cuban police agents detained Quiñones, a contributor to the news website CubaNet, as he was standing outside of the Guantánamo Municipal Tribunal, according to CubaNet and the Association for Press Freedom (APLP), a Cuban press freedom organization. At the time of his detention, Quiñones was covering the trial of two Cuban evangelical pastors facing charges for homeschooling their children, CubaNet reported. While being transported in the police car, agents beat Quiñones, injuring his mouth, tongue, and right thumb and causing an inflammation in his right ear, his wife told APLP.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists in the same report "Cuba is one of the most hostile environments for the press in the world, and ranks among CPJ's 10 Most Censored Countries."
Roberto Quiñones was physically assaulted on April 22, 2019.
Today the Cuban embassy did not respond to the petitions of this Cuban citizen. Since they would not accept the letter Roberto José read it aloud and in it he outlined the real reason for his father's political persecution:
"The rigged trial held against my father for his work as a journalist, independent lawyer, and Catholic activist in the Family and Penitentiary Ministry of the Guantánamo-Baracoa Diocese, was actually a reprimand for his dignified work in general, and especially for his accompaniment to the evangelical pastors Adya Expósito and Ramón Rigal, also tried and convicted in a rigged manner on April 22 in that same Court; and also when my father was beaten and arbitrarily detained."
When he concluded reading the letter, all present chanted: Free Roberto Jesús Quiñones! Following the protest Roberto José Quiñones gave a short interview in English outlining the circumstances of his father's case and how his dad is doing presently.

Picket today outside the Cuban embassy in Washington DC.
Earlier today 30 non-governmental organizations called on the Cuban state to respect and guarantee the rights of journalist Roberto Jesús Quiñones.

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