The Cuban Government should immediately release Lazaro Gonzalez Valdes and Dr Leonel Morejon Almagro, leaders of the non-governmental coalition, Concilio Cubano, Amnesty International said today.
Lazaro Gonzalez Valdes was sentenced to 14 months' imprisonment after being convicted of disrespect' and disobedience' at his trial yesterday in a municipal court in Havana. Dr Leonel Morejon Almagro was sentenced to six months' imprisonment at his trial today on similar charges.
It is appalling that Lazaro Gonzalez Valdes and Dr Leonel Morejon Almagro are detained solely because of their peaceful activities with Concilio Cubano,' Amnesty International said. They are prisoners of conscience and should be released immediately.'
The insubstantial nature of the charges would seem to indicate that the Cuban authorities are desperate to stifle peaceful dissent.'
The charge of disrespect' is believed to have been based on the fact that they refused to stop their activities with Concilio Cubano after receiving three official warnings from the police to do so. In the case of Lazaro Gonzalez Valdes, the charge of disobedience' is reportedly based on allegations that the family took some time to open the door when police went to arrest him.
The defence lawyer in both cases, Dr Jose Angel Izquierdo Gonzalez, was reportedly informed of the substance of the charges against Lazaro Gonzalez Valdes only an hour or so before the three-hour trial started and he was only able to speak directly to his client minutes beforehand.
Lazaro Gonzalez Valdes is one of the four deputy national organizers of Concilio Cubano and the president of the unofficial Partido Pro Derechos Humanos en Cuba (PPDHC), Party for Human Rights in Cuba, one of more than 100 unofficial groups which belong to the coalition. Dr Leonel Morejon Almagro, who is also a lawyer and the president of Naturpaz, an unofficial environmental group, is the national organizer of Concilio Cubano.
Deputy national organizer of Concilio Cubano, Mercedes Parada Antunez, who had been taken to hospital under police guard following her arrest on 15 February, has reportedly been transferred to a detention centre. Reinaldo Cosano Alen, also a deputy national organizer of the coalition group, is also still reported to be in detention following his arrest on 21 February.
Dr Rene Gomez Manzano, one of the founders of Concilio Cubano and the president of an unofficial lawyers' group called Corriente Agramontista, Agramontist Current, has also been in detention since 17 February. It is feared that charges are to be brought against all three.
If you are a UK based journalist and require further information please call the AIUK Press
Office on 0171 814 6248 or e-mail
If you are reading this page within the UK and require further information or more information
about AIUK contact the AIUK Information Office on 0171 814 6200 or e-mail
If you are reading this page outside of the UK and require further information about Amnesty, please contact your local section or the International Secretariat of Amnesty International.