Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Independent journalists hounded and arrested, while Granma reporter get 14 years on spying charge

    Independent journalists hounded and arrested, while Granma reporter get

    14 years on spying charge

    Published on Wednesday 14 November 2012. Updated on Friday 16 November 2012.

    Reporters Without Borders condemns a worrying increase in harassment of

    dissidents in recent months, which has yet again contradicted the

    intentions manifested by the Cuban government when signing two United

    Nations human rights agreements in 2008.

    Neither of these agreements – the International Covenant on Civil and

    Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and

    Cultural Rights – has yet been ratified.

    "The hopes raised by the release of the 'Black Spring' prisoners in 2010

    are fading," Reporters Without Borders said. "This renewed crackdown

    should be condemned by the international community, especially the Latin

    American countries, which must put human rights and freedom of

    information at the centre of their relations with Cuba as it seeks

    regional integration."

    Reporters Without Borders has also learned that José Antonio Torres, a

    correspondent for the government newspaper Granma in Santiago, Cuba's

    second largest city, is considering the possibility of appealing against

    his conviction on a charge of spying but fears that his sentence could

    be increased if he does.

    Arrested in 2011 after writing articles about mismanagement of a

    Santiago aqueduct project and the installation of fibre-optic cable

    between Venezuela and Cuba, Torres was sentenced in July to 14 years in

    prison and withdrawal of his university degree in journalism.

    Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a journalist with the independent Hablemos

    Press news agency, began a hunger strike six days ago in protest against

    conditions in Valle Grande prison, to which he was transferred on 10

    November.

    Arrested on 16 September after writing about a cholera and dengue

    epidemic before the government had issued any statement on the subject,

    he is facing a sentence of up to three years in prison on a charge of

    insulting the president.

    Commenting on the case, Reporters Without Borders said: "Martínez has

    been detained for too long. We call on the Cuban authorities to release

    this journalist, who was just doing his duty to report the news."

    Hablemos Press journalists have repeatedly been the victims of threats

    and arbitrary detention in the course of the crackdown of the past few

    months.

    In one of the most recent instances, Hablemos Press director Roberto de

    Jesus Guerra Perez was interrogated and threatened for several hours on

    8 November, a week after one of the news agency's reporters, Jaime

    Leygonier, was subjected to a similar ordeal.

    Enyor Díaz Allen, the Hablemos Press correspondent in the eastern city

    of Guantánamo, was arrested on the morning of 6 November and was held

    for three days while all of his work equipment (a computer, two cameras

    and a mobile phone) were confiscated.

    Eleven dissidents were arrested when they went to a Havana police

    station on 7 November to enquire about Yaremis Flores, a lawyer held on

    a charge of "crime against the state." They included the blogger and

    political activist Antonio Rodiles, who is still being held and is

    facing a sentence of three months to a year in prison on charges of

    resisting the authorities.

    The next day, when a second group of dissidents went to the police

    station to find out what had happened to their colleagues, 16 of them,

    including the blogger Yoani Sánchez, were arrested on charges of public

    disorder, "social indiscipline" and activities "deliberately

    orchestrated by the US authorities."

    This was Sánchez's second arrested in two months. She and her husband,

    independent journalist Reynaldo Escobar, were arrested on 4 October and

    held for 30 hours when they went to the eastern city of Bayamo to cover

    the trial of Angel Carromero, a Spanish political activist accused of

    dangerous driving causing Cuban opposition activist Oswaldo Payá's death

    in July.

    The day after her first release, she wrote on Twitter: "During my

    detention, I refused to eat or drink any liquid. This is the first glass

    of water that I am having on arriving home, for an oesophagus on fire."

    She also reported that she was mistreated, as a result of which one of

    her teeth was broken.

    The Inter-American Court of Human Rights announced on 12 November that

    it is requesting preventive measures to guarantee the life and physical

    integrity of Sánchez and her relatives in response to the complaint that

    she brought before the court accusing the Cuban state of systematically

    violating her rights and freedom of movement.

    Sánchez has been refused 20 foreign travel permits since 2007. On 8

    November, the day of her second arrest, the Inter-American Press

    Association appointed her as the regional vice-chairperson for Cuba of

    its Press Freedom Committee.

    http://en.rsf.org/cuba-independent-journalists-hounded-16-11-2012,43688.html

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