September 23, 1999
HAVANA, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Two Cuban activists, arrested a week ago at an impromptu school for civil disobedience, were on hunger strike and would continue their protest until they were released, dissident sources said on Wednesday.
The pair, Marcel Valenzuela and Marlon Cabrera, both of the small opposition group Civic Demand, were arrested along with six other activists on September 14 while participating in an illegal, informal class on dissidence in Havana's Butari Park.
The other six, five activists and an independent journalist working unauthorised outside state media, were released in the following days.
But Valenzuela and Cabrera were still in Havana's Cien y Aldabo detention centre on Wednesday afternoon, where they were completing the eighth day of a hunger strike, the dissident sources added.
``They were the first ones to shout 'Long live human rights!' so maybe they are paying the price for that,'' said Oscar Elias Biscet, one of the original detainees, who was giving a class on civil disobedience at the time.
Biscet, who heads the illegal opposition group the Lawton Foundation, said Valenzuela was hit in the face when the group was arrested by plain-clothes policemen. ``If they are not released soon, we are planning a protest on their behalf. They were merely exercising their civic rights,'' he added.
Overt opposition activity, outside the structures of the ruling Communist Party's structures, is considered a ``counter- revolutionary'' crime in Cuba's penal code.
Havana denies the existence of genuine dissidents in Cuba, saying all opposition activists are traitors and mercenaries at the service of the U.S. government or Miami-based Cuban exile groups opposed to President Fidel Castro's government.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited
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