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    Cuba must stop ‘cat-and-mouse game’ with political activists

    2 August 2012

    Cuba must stop 'cat-and-mouse game' with political activists

    "The latest arrest and short-term detention of José Daniel Ferrer García

    continues the Cuban authorities' cat-and-mouse game with political

    dissidents and human rights activists"

    James Burke, Campaigner on the Caribbean at Amnesty International

    Thu, 02/08/2012

    The Cuban authorities must end their ongoing harassment of political and

    human rights activists, Amnesty International said today after a former

    prisoner of conscience was released following his latest arrest and

    detention in a police station for 36 hours.

    José Daniel Ferrer García, coordinator of the organization Patriotic

    Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU), was set free on

    Wednesday, two days after police arrested him in the eastern province of


    He was not charged with any crime. His family had no idea of his

    whereabouts until he was returned home by the authorities on Wednesday


    Ferrer's latest arrest follows three days he spent in detention after

    being arrested in Havana in February 2012 and a 27-day detention for

    "public disorder" in Santiago de Cuba two months later. These repeated,

    short detentions are in line with a pattern of harassment by the Cuban

    authorities against UNPACU members and other political dissidents.

    "The latest arrest and short-term detention of José Daniel Ferrer García

    continues the Cuban authorities' cat-and-mouse game with political

    dissidents and human rights activists," said James Burke, Campaigner on

    the Caribbean at Amnesty International.

    "This practice – used as a form of harassment and intimidation to

    repress legitimate, peaceful activism and freedom of expression – must

    come to a halt."

    UNPACU was formed in mid-2011 as an umbrella group of Cuban dissident

    organizations in and around the province of Santiago de Cuba who seek

    democratic change by non-violent means.

    Since its creation, the Cuban authorities have used arbitrary detention

    and other measures to harass and intimidate its members. One member,

    Wilman Villar Mendoza – whom Amnesty International named a prisoner of

    conscience – died last January on a hunger strike to protest his

    four-year prison sentence after a summary trial.

    UNPACU coordinator Ferrer García served eight years of a 25-year jail

    sentence for his political activism before being granted conditional

    release in March 2011.

    He was among 75 Cuban dissidents arrested during the so-called "Black

    Spring" crackdown in March 2003. Amnesty International adopted all 75 as

    prisoners of conscience after they were jailed for the peaceful

    expression of critical opinions of the government.

    Ferrer García was among those targeted in part for his participation in

    the Varela Project, which called for a national referendum on democratic

    reforms in Cuba.

    Following his conditional release last year, police in Santiago de Cuba

    re-arrested Ferrer García on 2 April 2012 along with 42 other activists

    – most of them UNPACU members.

    All the rest were set free, but police held Ferrer García on a "public

    disorder" charge for a further 27 days, before releasing him on the

    condition that he renounce his political activism.

    Following his release, José Daniel Ferrer García told Amnesty

    International that the authorities had arrested him to prevent him from

    travelling to the capital, Havana where he had planned to hold meetings

    with other government critics who are peacefully seeking greater respect

    for civil and political rights in Cuba.

    He said the ongoing campaign of harassment would not deter him or his

    colleagues from continuing with their activism: "Our goal in Cuba is to

    establish true rule of law in Cuba where freedom of expression, freedom

    of association – all fundamental freedoms – are respected, and until we

    do so, we will continue our peaceful struggle."

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