Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

25 July 2012

Cuba: Dozens arrested at funeral of prominent rights activist

Cuba: Dozens arrested at funeral of prominent rights activist
Dissident Cuban journalist Guillermo Fariñas (r) was among some 40 activists arrested at the funeral of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.

Dissident Cuban journalist Guillermo Fariñas (r) was among some 40 activists arrested at the funeral of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.

© ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/GettyImages


Tuesday’s events follow the pattern of short-term detentions and imprisonments we’ve seen the Cuban authorities carry out time and again as a form of intimidation against dissidents and human rights activists
Source: 
Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Cuba researcher
Date: 
Wed, 25/07/2012

The Cuban authorities’ arrest and short-term detention of more than 40 activists as they paid their respects at the funeral of human rights activist Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas is another sign of how entrenched repression against dissidents on the island remains, Amnesty International said.

Among those arrested and shoved onto buses immediately following Tuesday’s funeral mass in the capital Havana were former prisoner of conscience Félix Navarro Rodríguez and outspoken dissident journalist Guillermo Fariñas.

Elizardo Sánchez, President of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, told Amnesty International how as many as 200 state security and police officers descended on the street outside the church in the Havana neighbourhood of El Cerro and began roughing up the mourners and bundling them into buses.

“The authorities don’t want the public to know how many people were there and that we’re not afraid of them,” Guillermo Fariñas told Amnesty International after his release.

The journalist said the police pushed him to the ground outside the church, before forcing him to board the bus with around 20 other mourners, the majority of whom were also mistreated by police. Many shouted chants including “Long live Oswaldo!” and “freedom for Cuba!”

They were then held at different locations in the capital, including Tarará Police School in East Havana. Most of them, including Guillermo Fariñas and Félix Navarro Rodríguez were released several hours later and it appears the last of those held were let go on Wednesday morning.

“Tuesday’s events follow the pattern of short-term detentions and imprisonments we’ve seen the Cuban authorities carry out time and again as a form of intimidation against dissidents and human rights activists,” said Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Cuba researcher.

“Indeed, it was the very kind of repression which Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas dedicated his life to combating before his tragic death last weekend.”

Payá, whose funeral the activists were attending, fell victim to a road accident on Sunday in eastern Cuba’s Granma Province.

The longtime activist was leader of the “Liberation” Christian Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) and had spent time in a labour camp in the 1960s for his beliefs.

In 2005, the European Parliament awarded him the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought – which has also been awarded to Guillermo Fariñas and the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) activism group.

An official investigation has been opened into Payá’s death as his family members raised questions about the exact circumstances of the car crash.

Issue

Activists 
Detention 
Freedom Of Expression 
Individuals at Risk 
Prisoners Of Conscience 

Country

Cuba 

Region

Americas 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

21 August 2014

Children accused of being members of armed groups in the conflict in Mali are languishing in adult jails while human rights abuses continue.

Read more »
15 August 2014

The number of killings perpetrated by the police is on the rise again in the Dominican Republic whilst legislation intended to fix the problem stalls and stagnates in Congress... Read more »

29 August 2014

The execution of two men in Japan on Friday flies in the face of growing calls in the country to halt the use of capital punishment, said Amnesty International.

Read more »
29 August 2014

Russia’s official branding of a civil society organization as a “foreign agent”, an expression akin to “spying”, for speaking out on Ukraine is a sign of the country’s... Read more »

29 August 2014

Peaceful activist Mohamed Bachir Arab has been held in secret since he was arrested by the Syrian intelligence forces on 2 November 2011. He is one of Syria's many "disappeared... Read more »