Via Capitol Hill Cubans:
It’s Time for Clear Words
From Germany’s International Society for Human Rights (ISHR):
Cuban civil rights activists are complaining of the lacking sympathy of the Catholic Church
Wave of arrests continues
The Cuban police tried to silence civil rights activists and dissidents during the visit of the Pope with a new wave of arrests. As the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) reports, the number of known political arrests increased to 177 until Tuesday. Speaker of the Board of the ISHR, Martin Lessenthin, criticizes that, in spite of the obvious violations of the freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly during his visit on the island, Pope Benedict didn’t find clear words for the Cuban democracy and civil rights movements. “A false picture of harmony is drawn which contributes to the fact that human rights are still strangled in Cuba”, says Lessenthin.
Cuban civil rights activists are disappointed about the lacking sympathy of the Catholic Church. The Catholic civil rights activist and former political prisoner Oswaldo Payá published a declaration, in which he complained that the Catholic Church doesn’t pick out the arrests of dissidents, who couldn’t see the Pope “not even from far away”, as a central theme sufficiently and condem them.
Threatening texts and capped telephone wires
Moreover ISHR points out that the Cuban authorities tried to suppress these kind of expression of opinion. Besides the mass arrests, numerous telephone wires had been capped. Other civil rights activists got threatening text messages that they would “disappear” after the departure of the Pope.
Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI. prayed on the 26th of March publicly in the church of pilgrimage El Cobre in the province Santiago de Cuba for “those, who were shorn of their freedom” and argued publicly for a change in Cuba, but the Castro regime set a more clear example during the mass: A young Cuban, who isn’t known by name and who began to shout dissident slogans during a mass of the Pope around 100 meters away from the tribune, was beaten and hauled off by Cuban state security officials, reports the ISHR. Also the answer of the political hint came quickly: “There will be no political reform in Cuba”, declared Vice President Mariano Murillo forcefully to the press.
The Speaker of the Vatican, Federico Lombardi, affirms that the numerous petitions for the release of political prisoners “had presence” during the 40 minutes-meeting of Pope Benedict and Raúl Castro, but names and details weren´t mentioned. The wish of the civil rights organization “Ladies in White” for an audience couldn´t be fulfilled due to “time reasons”.