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Amnesty Welcomes Cuban Announcement On Rights

Amnesty International Welcomes Cuban Announcement on Human Rights But Says Government Must Stop Intimidating and Arresting Political Dissidents

(New York)--Amnesty International today welcomed the announcement by Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs that the country will soon ratify key human rights treaties, but said the move will be meaningful only if Cuba stops intimidating and arresting political dissidents.

"The Cuban government must signal its true commitment to human rights treaties by acting to release all those detained solely for their peaceful political activities and ensuring that all human rights are respected and promoted across the country," said Kerrie Howard, deputy director of Amnesty International's Americas Program.

The Cuban government's announcement coincided with increased crackdowns of dissidents Nov. 21 through Dec. 10--International Human Rights Day--when many political dissidents were arrested following peaceful protests against the government.

According to local reports, the detentions lasted for short periods of time and were aimed at discouraging demonstrations against the government, particularly on Human Rights Day.

At least three people arrested in government protests before Dec. 10 remained in detention and were transferred to maximum security prison. They were identified as Juan Bermudez Toranzo, vice president of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights; Manuel Perez Soria and Vladimir Alejo Miranda.

The recent detentions add to the at least 62 journalists, members of unofficial political groups and political dissidents held in prisons across Cuba because of their peaceful political activities. All have been adopted by Amnesty International as "prisoners of conscience."

"Every time someone in Cuba is arrested or imprisoned solely for their human rights work or their opinions, it sends a strong message to all human rights organizations that their work will not be tolerated," said Howard.


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