Tags: Cuba | Human rights | freedom | activists

Cuba Detains Activists in Skirmishes on Human Rights Day

Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 12:48 PM

Cuban police detained several activists during peaceful demonstrations at a popular Havana square on Wednesday, an annual protest on international Human Rights Day.

The skirmishes outside the popular Coppelia ice cream parlor were ongoing, and there was no reliable estimate of the number of detentions.

Police in plain clothes grabbed demonstrators who chanted "Freedom!" and "Long live human rights!" or held up their index finger and thumb in the shape of an "L" for "liberty," stuffing them in the back seats of police cars and driving away.

Pro-government counter-demonstrators chanted "Long live the revolution!" or "Fidel!" for retired former President Fidel Castro, officially referred to as the "historic leader" or "commander in chief" of the 1959 Cuban revolution.

The incident took place in plain view of reporters summoned to the demonstration by the Ladies in White, a group of wives and relatives of dissidents who have spent time in jail, that is generally tolerated but periodically harassed in Cuba.

One man tossed a handful of fliers into the street as he was detained. Police scooped up most of them, refusing to provide a copy to Reuters.

One man quietly told Reuters in English, "Don't worry, this country will be free very soon. These people are very bad, the communists." The man was then grabbed by police and hauled away in a squad car.

When asked what offense the man committed, police declined to say, instead pointing to the counter demonstrators and saying, "Ask them."

Cuban officials typically detain dissidents for a few hours or days and then let them go. The women from the Ladies in White are often taken home rather than to jail.

Police detained 398 opposition activists in November, raising to 8,410 the number of short-term detentions made this year, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a dissident group.

The monthly average of 764 detentions this year is the highest total in any year since the commission began keeping records in 2010. The numbers include people detained more than once and cannot be independently confirmed.

The Cuban government considers dissident groups as paid agents of the United States government and says very few Cubans disagree with the country's socialist model.

The communist government adds that the free healthcare and education it offers its citizens are also human rights, defending its one-party system and control of the media as parts of socialism.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Cuban police detained several activists during peaceful demonstrations at a popular Havana square on Wednesday, an annual protest on international Human Rights Day.
Cuba, Human rights, freedom, activists
399
2014-48-10
Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 12:48 PM
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