Amnesty International has issued two Urgent Action notices for five Cuban dissidents imprisoned by the Castro dictatorship who have been classified prisoners of conscience.
Document – Cuba: Government critics jailed for speaking out
UA: 205/13 Index: AMR 25/006/2013 Cuba Date: 2 August 2013
GOVERNMENT CRITICS JAILED FOR SPEAKING OUT
Two government critics are serving prison sentences in Cuba on politically motivated charges, following summary trials. Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Emilio Planas Robert and Rafael Matos Montes de Oca were arrested in the city of Guantánamo in Guantánamo Province on 23 and 27 September 2012 respectively by Cuban police and officials from the Department of State Security. The men, who are both members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU) were charged with “dangerousness” (peligrosidad), a pre-emptive measure defined as the “special proclivity of a person to commit crimes”. Behaviour such as drunkenness, drug-addiction and “antisocial behaviour” is criminalized under this legislation. However, it is also used as a pretext to imprison political dissidents, independent journalists and government critics. Emilio Planas Robert was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and Rafael Matos Montes de Oca to two-and-a-half years following summary trials on 5 and 15 October 2012 respectively.
The authorities had accused them of putting up posters in Guantánamo city with “anti-government” slogans such as “down with Fidel” (abajo Fidel) and “down with hunger” (abajo la hambre). According to their families, no incriminating material was found at their houses and none was presented at their trials.
Amnesty International believes these sentences are politically motivated, relating to the two men’s peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, and that it is intended to send a message of intimidation to other government critics, particularly other members of UNPACU. Therefore the organization considers them prisoners of conscience.
Document – Cuba: Three brothers detained for dissent
UA: 201/13 Index: AMR 25/005/2013 Cuba Date: 2 August 2013
THREE BROTHERS DETAINED FOR DISSENT
Three brothers who are members of a dissident organization are being detained on trumped-up charges. Amnesty International believes them to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Alexeis Vargas Martín and his two 17-year-old twin brothers, Vianco Vargas Martín and Django Vargas Martín have been detained, charged by the police with using “violence or intimidation” against a state official (atentado). The brothers, who live in the neighbourhood of Veguita de Galo in the city of Santiago de Cuba are all members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU).
In the afternoon of 27 November 2012, Alexeis was returning to his house where a government-sanctioned demonstration (acto de repudio, see background information) was underway at the time. The house was surrounded by government supporters as his mother, Miraida Martín Calderín, a member of the Ladies in White protest group, was meeting with other members of the same organization. Alexeis was refused entry to his own home and arrested by police and officials from the Department of State Security. On 2 December, Vianco and Django Vargas Martín – then only 16 years old – went with friends to protest outside the Micro 9 police station in the city of Santiago de Cuba against the detention of their brother. They were arrested and also charged by police with atentado.
The three brothers have yet to be formally charged by the public prosecutor and their lawyer has been refused access to their case-files. Amnesty International believes that their arrest and detention is in response to their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and that it is intended to send a message of intimidation to other government critics, particularly other members of UNPACU. For this reason the organization has adopted them as prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.