December 15, 2000
Amnesty International. Publish date: 14/12/2000
"The mass detention of dissidents and political opponents in the weeks around the 52nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights indicates a continued disrespect by the Cuban authorities towards several of the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Declaration," Amnesty International said today. "Although the number of prisoners of conscience in Cuba appears to have dropped slightly during 2000, these events clearly demonstrate the government's will to suppress attempts to exercise the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly."
Up to 200 people believed to be involved in the planning of anti-government demonstrations or marches for Human Rights Day on 10 December were rounded up and held in custody in order to prevent them from participating in 'counter-revolutionary' activities. Although most of those arrested were released after being held for periods of up to 48 hours, four people remained in detention yesterday evening, two of whom had already been tried and sentenced.
Angel Moya Acosta and Julia Cecilia Delgado were tried this week in separate proceedings for "disrespect" after being detained in the mass arrests. They were each sentenced to a year in prison. Angel Moya Acosta has also been banned from travelling to Havana, where his wife and children live, for ten years. The speed with which they were charged, brought to trial and sentenced gives Amnesty International cause for concern that the proceedings might not have met international standards for fair trial. The organization believes that they may be prisoners of conscience.
The organisation is also concerned for Leonardo Bruzón Avila and Marcos Lázaro Torres León, who were reportedly still held in detention without charge more than 10 days after their arrest in the context of the recent mass detentions.
A number of prominent dissidents have been in detention since October on charges related to their criticism of the Cuban government, including Carlos Oquendo Rodríguez, Jose Aguilar Hernández and Pedro Pablo Alvarez Ramos.
Angel Moya Acosta was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International following his arrest on 10 December 1999 for participating in a peaceful demonstration in Matanzas province to celebrate the 51st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although he was charged with "resistance", public disorder, and "instigation to commit a crime", he was freed on 7 August without ever being tried.
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