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December 11, 2013

Cuban Authorities Squelch Human Rights March

by VOA News

Cuban security forces have detained about 20 dissidents at the start of an International Human Rights Day march, halting the demonstration before it started.
 
The opponents were seen being taken away Tuesday after their planned protest along a central street in Havana was interrupted. The would-be protesters resisted, but no injuries were reported. It was not known where they were taken.
 
The dissident group, called the Ladies in White, were pounced upon and quickly shoved into waiting vehicles by security personnel and government supporters when they arrived at a busy intersection in the capital.
 
The women, in groups of two or three, came in taxis over a 20 minute period in an apparent attempt to avoid police, but to no avail.
 
The incident was similar to many others in the past and invariably the women are driven home or detained for just a few hours.
 
The organization charged that many other members were stopped by state security agents from attending what was billed as a rally and march for human rights.
 
Under former president Fidel Castro, dissidents often faced long prison terms for their activities, while under his brother, who took over in 2008, the government has changed tactics, temporarily detaining opponents for a few hours, days or weeks and then releasing them, only to repeat the process if they protest again.
 
International rights groups say Cuban laws virtually prevent all forms of protest and dissent while the government says it upholds human rights by providing free education and health services.
 
Pro-government demonstrators gathered in the street to shout slogans for the Cuban revolution.
 
Cuban authorities consider the island's small community of outspoken dissidents to be counterrevolutionaries and charge they accept foreign money to try to undermine the Communist system.

Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.