Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Witnessing a hero in action at the United Nations Human Rights Council: Juan Carlos González Leiva

My life is my message. - Mohandas Gandhi
Juan Carlos González Leiva with Mohandas Gandhi in Geneva
Today I was honored and humbled to witness a courageous man in action at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Juan Carlos González Leiva is an attorney and human rights activist who has spent the past 20 years defending the rights of Cubans inside the island. He has been consistently threatened with death, suffered arbitrary detention for two years without trial, received death threats and been subjected that amounts to torture. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders and the Coalition of Cuban American Women have documented his plight over this time. His family has also been a target of harassment by the dictatorship in Cuba. Many have fled into exile, but Juan Carlos remains in Cuba carrying on the struggle for human rights. The Harvard Crimson in 2003 described him as the conscience of Cuba.

What is remarkable is that a man who lost his sight completely in 1986, at the age of 21 (he had suffered with vision problems since birth) would eight years later begin the life of a dissident and human rights defender in Cuba. Below is the statement that he gave today and in the video one can witness the hostility of the dictatorship towards this man and his courage confronting it. Reading the document in braille he demonstrated a far seeing vision into the reality of Cuba that many with sight refuse or are unable to see.

In a world where so many heroes are manufactured and false it is a powerful experience to see one in action. Listen to the exchange with the diplomat of the Castro regime below at 31:45.

Item 3
United Nations Human Rights Council
September 15, 2014
I am Juan Carlos González Leiva, spent 20 years as a blind lawyer defending human rights, suffering beatings, arbitrary arrests and organized mobs. From March 4, 2002 to April 26, 2004, was detained in the Police Center of Pedernales, Holguín, without trial, for celebrating a congress about human rights. There, systematically they sprayed chemical substances over me that burned my skin and occasioned hallucinations, strong headaches and allergies.

I was confined without access to the press, telephone, correspondence, or religious assistance. Murderous prisoners threatened me and prevented me from sleeping night and day. In my cell were left exposed electric cables with current.

Human rights defenders in my country are victims of a constant policy of repression.

For example: In 2014 I was beaten together with 10 activists in the street. Agents dislocated my left leg and right shoulder and I lost consciousness when they applied a choke hold. Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”and his wife Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera were arrested, beaten and transferred to the local police headquarters where Antúnez was placed in a choke hold losing consciousness several times and was injected by state security agents with an unknown substance. His home was invaded and sacked.

Other activists arbitrarily detained and beaten were: José Daniel Ferrer García, Yusmila Reina Ferrera, Geobanis Izaguirre Hernández and Ernesto Ortiz Betancourt.

I ask the United Nations protection for me and all the activists inside Cuba because soon I will return to my country to continue defending human rights.

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