US Expresses “Deep Concern” Over The Arrest Of Dissidents In Havana

Durante la marcha de las Damas de Blanco de este domingo 9 de agosto, algunos manifestantes portaron máscaras de Barack Obama. (Twitter/ @ForoDyL)
During the march of the Ladies in White on Sunday August 9, some demonstrators wore masks of Barack Obama. (Twitter /ForoDyL)

On Monday, the US Government expressed “deep concern” about the detention for some hours of about 90 dissidents in Cuba, including a group of members of the Ladies in White, and insisted that it will continue to work to ensure respect for the right to demonstrate in Cuba.

“We have seen the reports, and our staff at the embassy in Havana confirmed these arrests,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the State Department, in his daily briefing.

Kirby stressed the “deep concern” of the US government over these arrests.

“We are going to continue to pressure for the rights of peaceful assembly, associate and freedom of expression, and we are going to continue expressing our support for an improvement in the conditions of human rights and democratic reforms,” he added.

Those arrests come just days before the US Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Havana this Friday for the formalization of the raising of the flag over the embassy in Cuba, which opened last month, and within the process of normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries which remained suspended for more than half a century.

The opponents Antonio González-Rodiles, his partner, Ayler González and Ángel Santiesteban told EFE that they were arrested and taken into a police car to a detention center after meeting with the Ladies in White

The spokesman referred to the arrests Sunday, several hours after a demonstration in a Havana park, with some carrying photos of political prisoners and others wearing masks with images of the US president, Barack Obama.

The opponents Antonio González-Rodiles, his partner, Ayler González and Ángel Santiesteban told EFE that they were arrested and taken into a police car to a detention center after meeting with the Ladies in White, after the usual walk that this women’s movement undertakes on Sundays after Mass in a church in the neighborhood of Miramar.

The three said they were detained for a few hours and they knew of other dissidents in the same situation as in the case of Aliuska Gomez of the Ladies in White, who was already released.

Gonzalez Rodiles, who leads the independent project Estado de Sats, explained that they carried the photos to “signal that repression has intensified against opposition activists” as part of the campaign “We All March” which they have undertaken to advocate for the release of political prisoners.

According to the latest report released by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), during July there were at least 674 temporary political arrests on the island, the highest level since June 2014, and 21 cases of physical attacks during the arrests.

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