A Black September Surprise? (UPDATED x 2)

Cuban dissident leader Martha Beatriz Roque was briefly detained this evening, as she and other dissidents protested outside the Justice Ministry in Havana, according Marti Noticias and AFP. They had gone there to protest the treatment of Cuban political prisoners, and the apparent arrest earlier in the day of as many as two dozen other dissidents.

Marti Noticias reported the Roque, a former political prisoner, and the others — reportedly including two members of the Damas de Blanco (“Ladies in White”) were harassed, threatened and pushed by about 100 government flunkies as they conducted a sit-in protest in front of the Justice Ministry.

Eventually, police loaded them in a bus and delivered them back to Roque’s house, according to Marti Noticias.

How many dissidents were arrested earlier in the day was not clear. But all reports agreed that one of those taken into custody was the legendary Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antúnez), who in April of this year was released after more than 17 years in prison, only to resume his activism on behalf of his jailed compatriots.

Cuba Encuentro, quoting Sanchez, said there were 16 arrests, while independent journalist Oswaldo Yañez put the count at 17. AFP reported there were 21 arrests.

Cuban Democratic Directorate published the names of 22 dissidents it said were detained, were otherwise missing. The include the independent journalists Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez — also, a former political prisoner — Félix Reyes Gutiérrez and Yoel Espinosa Medrano. (The latter two work for Guillermo Fariñas’ Cubanacan Press news agency.)

The Directorate also rquotes Cuban dissident and former political prisoner René Montes de Oca Martijas, as saying that the crackdown Thursday was not a surprise.

“We had anticipated this repressive wave being developed against human rights activists because the regime would react to the upcoming supposed elections on October 28, where they hope to convince the country and the world that there is no opposition movement in Cuba and that there is no consolidated civil society that is willing to take risks to demonstrate that in Cuba there IS a community that seeks freedom,” Montes de Oca said.

(Cross-posted at Babalú)

UPDATED, 10:29 p.m.

Finally, the MSM is reporting the news, in English.

Reuters reports:

Cuban security police detained seven dissidents who went to the Justice Ministry on Thursday to demand better conditions for Cuba’s political prisoners.

The demonstrators, led by prominent dissident leader Martha Beatriz Roque, were pushed and yelled at by a group of 100 government supporters sent to quell the protest, and then put on a bus and driven home, Roque said.

“I was scratched, pushed and insulted,” she said by telephone from her Havana home. “There was no need to resort to violence.”

Roque handed in a letter at the ministry demanding that Cuba’s Communist authorities improve the jail conditions for political prisoners. She and her group then stood outside waiting for a reply.

Veteran rights activist Elizardo Sanchez, who heads the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said more than a dozen other dissidents were picked up by state security police — some in their homes — before they could join the protest. He was not sure they had all been freed.

“We are demanding that the political prisoners be treated with dignity, because they are human beings, and besides, they are innocent,” Roque, an economist who has twice been jailed for several years for criticizing Cuba’s one-party state.

UPDATED, 7:40 a.m. EDT, Sept. 28, 2007

This morning, Cuba Encuentro has a few more details:

— The more than 20 “missing” dissidents are presumed to have been arrested, because they never arrived at Martha Beatriz Roque’s home, as planned.
— Roque reports that Antunez was taken, in handcuffs, from Havana to his hometown of Santa Clara.
— She also says as many as 200 people were expected to participate in the protest outside the Justice Ministry.

Also, independent journalist Tania Maceda Guerra reports that more than 25 dissidents were detained. Her story lists 23 names.

3 thoughts on “A Black September Surprise? (UPDATED x 2)”

  1. Thanks. I picked up the story. I think Beatriz Roque is a little too connected to Miami and the US Interests section but I’m in favor of anyone who wants to stir the pot down there.

  2. Havana Journal –

    Being allied with Miami and the US Interest Section is no badge of shame. On the contrary, they are the only ones allied with Cuban dissidents at all. How else can the dissidents get the support and resources that they desperately need?

    Unfortunately, the dissidents are not as well known in Cuba as we’d like them to be. I doubt that the Cuban people would really care that they are allied with Miami, as many of them receive their daily sustenance from there and dream of going there. Don’t you realize that the government’s tarring of the dissidents as “lackey of the Empire” is a ruse to justify their unjustifiable repression? What, pray tell, would make it more palatable to you?

Comments are closed.