Saturday, December 22, 2012

Take Action and Protect the Ladies in White

"We are women who are conscious of our nonviolent struggle against injustice and for freedom. If they throw us to the floor, we will stand up. No matter how many times it takes." - Berta Soler, Lady in White
Ladies in White marching for human rights in Cuba following Mass in Havana / AP

Members of the Ladies in White and their loved ones over the course of 2012 have been subjected to death threats, physical assaults, arbitrary detentions and knife attacks. The previous year saw one of the founders of the movement die under suspicious circumstances.

The Ladies in White were founded in March of 2003 following a massive crackdown on the 18th of that same month in which over 100 activists were detained of which 75 were sentenced in show trials to up to 28 years in prison for their nonviolent defense of human rights and liberties.

These courageous women succeeded in obtaining the freedom of their loved ones after long years of struggle and have continued in their effort to free all remaining political prisoners and to see that the laws are changed in order to ensure that their are no more prisoners of conscience in Cuba.

The regime in Cuba has responded with violence and arbitrary detentions. The Ladies in White have responded by redoubling their efforts and expanding their nonviolent movement.

On the eve of International Human Rights Day and on December 10, 2012 itself more than a 100 of these women were arbitrarily detained, many of them violently by agents of the government of Cuba. Over the course of 24 hours, according to Hablemos Press, there were 207 politically motivated detentions across Cuba.  This was done in order to prevent them taking part in activities on Human Rights Day. Others had their homes laid siege to and were unable to leave their homes without being attacked by regime organized mobs.

On December 18, 2012 the dictatorship used its state security apparatus to block streets, threatened and detained women in an effort to stop them from holding their Literary Tea gathering. 

Despite all of this, these courageous women continue to meet and march demanding an end to the systematic violation of human rights in Cuba, and the immediate liberation of all of Cuba's prisoners of conscience.

In an interview to the El Nuevo Herald on December 19, 2012 the spokeswoman of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, in response to the wave of violence against them said
"We are women who are conscious of our nonviolent struggle against injustice and for freedom. If they throw us to the floor, we will stand up. No matter how many times it takes."
On December 7, 2012 issued a call for signatures to protect human rights defenders in the Americas stating:
Human rights defenders in the Americas play a vital role in exposing and combating human rights violations. Many have paid a high price for their courageous efforts to break cycles of injustice, discrimination and impunity.
As of 3:10pm on December 22, 2012 there have only been 389 signers. Indifference and neutrality to injustice is what allows it to proliferate. Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu observed
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
Please take a minute and sign the petition to defend human rights defenders in the Americas and the Ladies in White in particular.


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