Press release from Cuban Prisoners Defenders, October 8, 2019:
AFTER THE ASSAULT OF HIS HOUSE BY SPECIAL FORCES, ITS DETENTION AND DISAPPEARANCE …
- In the morning of October 1 in Santiago de Cuba, the house of José Daniel Ferrer, General Coordinator of UNPACU, Prisoner of Conscience of Amnesty International, FHC International Human Rights Prize and NED Democracy Award, was assaulted by special forces under the direct command of Raúl Castro. They violently broke the door and assaulted their home, stealing tables, chairs, food and appliances, in the presence of 4 children, two of them under 2 years of age. Without accusation or charges against anyone, he and 3 other activists were arrested (Fernando González Vaillant, José Pupo Chaveco and Roilán Zárraga Ferrer) and “disappeared” for days without their relatives knowing their whereabouts.
- The next day, Wednesday, October 2, European sources have informed UNPACU this weekend that they would have received the commitment of the Cuban government that it was an “investigation”, but that they would release Ferrer immediately. As indicated, they would have believed them. If true, the regime would again have deceived the European Union and would have gained time to prepare a farce protected by the notorious public silence of the EU. Meanwhile, the diplomats themselves said nothing to the relatives, who did not know the whereabouts or the state of Ferrer, or if he was alive or dead, until October 4, at which time the diplomats would have communicated this fact to third parties. Truly embarrassing and unqualifiable. Would that be a dignified act? It is enough to put themselves in the family’s place to know that the diplomatic “little game” of confidentiality in such a case would have been no more than qualifiable as collusion and complicity with the captor when it comes to arbitrary detention and forced disappearance, crimes against humanity that are punished by the laws of their countries of origin.
- Sources consulted by Prisoners Defenders, thanks to UNPACU investigations, have corroborated that State Security has threatened neighbours to testify against Ferrer for assaulting a citizen, Sergio García González, with whom he had no altercation at all. To prove the farce they prepare, testimonies have been recorded by UNPACU from people like Sandy Ramírez, who was threatened to sign, under grave threats, false testimony about José Daniel, or the wife of Sergio García González confirming that Sergio had some injuries from falling on his motorcycle and that, after several days of pain, when he went to the hospital he was threatened by the State Security so that he would tell that those injuries were actually caused by Ferrer. All of this dismantle the preparations of the farce (See video).
- José Daniel is still being held at the Versailles State Security Unit in Santiago de Cuba, a detention and torture police centre. They have not allowed his wife, a doctor, to leave his medicines for the stomach ulcer he suffers and the last time he saw him he was in poor health.
Amnesty International condemnation
Amnesty International has issued a statement today morning (See Communiqué) in which it condemns the arrest of José Daniel Ferrer. On the one hand, it condemns the way in which it occurred, without charges or information on the reasons. Second, being deprived of having a hearing before a judge at all times. Third, keeping him totally incommunicado and without his relatives knowing his whereabouts for at least 72 hours. All of them are basic rights of a detainee. For all these reasons, they indicate, the arrest has all the parameters to be qualified as “arbitrary arrest”, which, added to its prolonged forced disappearance, under international law is a crime against humanity.
Amnesty International indicates that José Daniel Ferrer “should immediately be informed of the reasons for his detention, or otherwise released.” “José Daniel Ferrer García has been previously imprisoned, harassed and intimidated for more than a decade by Cuban authorities due to his political activism. His detention follows the naming by Amnesty International of six prisoners of conscience in less than two months.”
This is how the basic liberties situation of José Daniel Ferrer, visible leader of the human rights movement in Cuba, is described, as well as the notable worsening, as was not known since 2003, of the repression in Cuba.
As indicated by one of the most important newspapers in Spain, ABC, in recent days, there have been numerous denounces of this detention, such as the one expressed by the secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, through his Twitter account: «We strongly condemn the arbitrary detention of the human rights activist and leader of the #UNPACU @jdanielferrer by the Castro regime. Freedom now #OEAconCuba ». The Republican senator of Cuban origin, Marcos Rubio, had also shown his rejection: “The whereabouts of @jdanielferrer, general coordinator of the #UNPACU, and several activists of the organization are unknown. What is the fear of the regime with these members, as they insist on silencing their voice? NOTHING will stop these activists in their fight for a #CubaLibre.
European diplomats could have known about Ferrer’s situation and would have hidden it
Diplomats of the European Union could have known, throughout October 2, about José Daniel Ferrer while the relatives suffered his absence and forced disappearance. They would also have known his whereabouts. UNPACU has been informed this weekend by diplomatic sources about this, as we have confirmed by UNPACU sources. But no diplomat indicated anything to family members before. Is the collusion with the regime so great that not even the minimum humanitarian gestures would be present in their proceedings with the relatives of the detainee? These stayed without notice about José Daniel for 72 long hours, until October 4. They feared even for his life.
Is that the way in which the European Union would aim to achieve anything positive about its actions? Would European diplomats accept that a relative of his, his father, mother, husband, wife, was kidnapped and that another diplomat knew it and kept silent in collusion with the captors? It would truly be unqualifiable.
Call to the European Union
The European Union must be aware that, while with its position of dialogue and apparent fantastic relations with Cuba directly feeds two of the pillars of the Castro dictatorship (facilitating the propaganda of false ideological superiority and international relations) and, even more, favours obtaining funds and credit from both the European Union and the financing sources that allows the regime to guarantee ongoing relations and projects, as long as it does not make visible and legitimate the true civil society of Cuba, nor ever publicly condemns these acts (such as the EU Commission has been omitting to do so), the repression against human rights activists will increase as it has done the last year, reaching a climax this September with the visit of Ms. Moguerini, with the more than 480 arbitrary arrests made, and four new political prisoners jailed by the regime this last month.
We call on the European Union, especially the Commission, to be brave and consistent with its principles, and demonstrate at the public level that human rights are a backbone of relations with Cuba, and respectfully but firmly condemn this assault and the 8 raids and hundreds of detentions that occurred both in the visit of Mrs. Moguerini and in the month of September.
Failure to act in this way endangers the life and physical integrity of José Daniel Ferrer, beaten with extreme violence every time he is arrested while being interrogated and threatened in the dungeons of detention centres, and of numerous human rights activists and, still sure that with the best intentions, nevertheless it favours the conditions so that the repression in Cuba increases disproportionately.
The European Commission is moving from being an entity with good intentions to being an entity that, by negligent or naive, is endangering the life, integrity and health of human rights activists in Cuba.
ABOUT CUBAN PRISONERS DEFENDERS
Cuban Prisoners Defenders is an independent group of analysis, study and action, with the collaboration of all dissident groups on the island and the families of political prisoners to gather information and promote the freedom of all political prisoners, as well as to maintain the updated weekly lists of Convicted of Conscience, Condemned of Conscience,, Political Prisoners and Long-lasting political prisoners imprisoned. Cuban Prisoners Defenders is part of the Prisoners Defenders International Network, a legally registered association based in Madrid, Spain, and whose Internet address is www.prisonersdefenders.org.
The group from Cuba is coordinated by Iván Hernández Carrillo (ASIC), Adolfo Fernández Sainz (FNCA) and Javier Larrondo (UNPACU), without these organizations controlling to any degree, allowing a dedicated work to all political prisoners without distinctions and equally. In Madrid’s office, the legal reports have the contribution of another one of the founders of Cuban Prisoners Defenders, the international criminal lawyer Mr. Sebastián Rivero, who, among other experiences, has been a collaborating jurist of the Permanent Ambassador of Spain at the United Nations. The organization also has different patrons from all ideologies, among others several deputies of the National Congress of Spain of different parties, as well as D. Blas Jesús Imbroda, president of the International Criminal Bar (ICB, elected in 2017) and Dean of the Bar Association of Melilla, Spain.
The works of Cuban Prisoners Defenders are adopted by numerous institutions and are sent, among others, to CANF, UNPACU, ASIC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Organization of American States, European Parliament, Congress and Senate of the United States, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, People In Need, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN for Latin America and the Caribbean, Real Instituto Elcano, Fundación Transición Española, International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, FANTU, Party for Democracy Pedro Luis Boitel, Independent Pedagogues College of Cuba, Freedom House, Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL), FAES, Ladies in White y Citizen Movement Reflection and Reconciliation, among many other institutions and organizations.
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