Authorities in Cuba have started to use summary trials to prosecute participants in the recent protests against the communist government.
Family members and activists told The Miami Herald that young people, including minors, have been among the major targets of the punishments.
The Herald reports: ''Photographer Anyelo Troya, 25, was tried on Tuesday and sentenced to one year in prison under 'public disorder' charges,'' and that his mother, Raiza Gonzalez, was not permitted to see him.
Gonzalez continued that she went to look for a lawyer Monday after learning that Troya was being held in the ''100 and Aldabo'' police station, but when they returned Tuesday, they were told that Troya was ''being tried in a Diez de Octubre court [on the other side of Havana]. We rushed, but we got there too late; he was already tried along with 10 other young protesters.'' Gonzalez also wrote on Facebook, ''[W]here is the right of my son Anyelo Troya González to have a transparent trial? I am befuddled by the reality that I am living in.''
Dance student Amanda Celaya, 17, was arrested Sunday in Havana for recording the protests on her phone. Authorities told family members that she will be tried Thursday. Independent journalist Miriam Celaya wrote on Facebook, ''[F]inally, my niece Amanda Hernández Celaya was released last night to remain at home until Thursday 22, when she will be brought to trial. What is she accused of? 'Public disorder.'''
Celaya told the Herald that her niece is not involved in politics and that she was just recording the demonstration on her phone.
Camila Lobón, an activist helping to confirm details of those arrested, told the Herald that she knows of two protesters who will be tried soon: Alexander Diego Gil and Randy Arteaga. Lobón said that ''Arteaga was detained in Villa Clara, and he is the only child of an elderly couple. He is their only provider; they don't have money to pay for a lawyer. They don't even have a phone, so activists have to go to their house to communicate with them. It is a precarious situation for many families. There's ignorance of what they should do, legally. There's helplessness and there's fear, because many fear authorities would retaliate if they speak out.''
Cuban lawyer Laritza Diversent said that a summary trial, which has been used since the early days of the Cuban Revolution, ''is an express procedure for minor crimes. In summary trials, the time of ordinary proceedings can be cut in half. Someone can be sent to trial anytime between two and 45 days. The sentence is handed down orally; there is almost no documentation of the whole process, making any appeal difficult. It is very arbitrary.''
Lobón also said that ''[T]he fact that they are charging people with public disorder shows they were just peaceful protesters and did not commit any crimes,'' and that public disorder charges are used often against dissidents and activists who demonstrate against the Cuban government.
''The Cuban legal system is a black hole, and when you fall through it, you're helpless,'' she said. ''Most people arrested did not commit any crimes, but [the government] want to make a public example of them. The summary trials have just started, but there are many more to come,'' Lobón added.
She is compiling a list of detainees and has challenged the government to release the official number of arrests made following the demonstrations across Cuba.
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