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Human Rights Day Demonstrators Detained in Cuba

Cuban security personnel detain a member of the Ladies in White dissident group during a protest on International Human Rights Day, Havana, Dec.10, 2015.

Several Cuban dissidents were arrested in Havana on Thursday for taking part in a human rights demonstration on International Human Rights Day.

Only a handful of people were able to make it to the planned site of the unauthorized protests. Shouting "freedom" and "long live human rights," they were barely able to disrupt traffic before they were hauled away by police.

The human rights group Amnesty International said that many members of the protest group, called the Ladies in White, were "arbitrarily restricted" on Wednesday to prevent them from participating in a protest.

In recent years, groups of Cubans have demonstrated every year on the U.N.'s International Human Rights Day, December 10.

International Human Rights Day is a commemoration of the date in 1948 when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document outlining basic international rights norms.

The activist Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation estimated that at least 100 people were arrested nationwide Thursday.

Amnesty had warned that protesters were at an increased risk of detention this year, after 1,477 people were arrested in November. Amnesty said it was "the highest monthly total in many years."

A supporter of the Ladies in White dissident group looks on as he is detained by Cuban security personnel during a protest on International Human Rights Day, Havana, December 10, 2015.
A supporter of the Ladies in White dissident group looks on as he is detained by Cuban security personnel during a protest on International Human Rights Day, Havana, December 10, 2015.

The rights group said, "This is a systematic problem that silences Cuban activists in their own streets."

Other observances

Elsewhere Thursday, more than 1,000 Filipinos rallied in Manila, carrying placards with the names of human rights champions who are missing, imprisoned or dead. Christina Palaby with the rights group Karapatan said the government of Benigno Aquino has failed to address human rights issues.

"There was not even one high-ranking official or someone from the Philippine armed forces convicted. That says a lot about the government's political will," she said.

And Jordan's King Abdullah II warned that the rights of the Palestinian people need to be part of a global anti-terror strategy.

"Today is International Human Rights Day, but until the Palestinian people achieve their rights, millions of people around the world will be cynical about the reality of global justice," the monarch told a conference on Mediterranean security in Rome.

The top United Nations human rights official warned that "many challenges remain" to ensure freedom, justice and peace across the world.

The declaration of human rights and subsequent treaties "have played an important role in securing better respect and recognition [of rights] during the past five at-times turbulent decades," said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

"Of course, many challenges remain," he added in the video statement. "But respect for freedom continues to be the foundation for peace, security and development for all."

U.N. officials are using this year's commemoration to draw attention to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted in 1966.

"The two covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic and social rights that are the birthright of all human beings," the U.N. said in a statement.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon added: "On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all."