Statement by the Europe-Cuba NGO Network on the Government Violence Against Women's Organizations in Cuba
August 31, 2011
Following recent news from Cuba about the use of intimidation, violence and temporary detentions by Cuban government against the "Damas de Blanco" we want to show our admiration for their non-violent protests and ask for even greater support and recognition for this civil group in particular.
The Damas de Blanco was formed after the Black Spring of 2003 when the Cuban Government sentenced 75 dissidents to up to 28 years in prison. Wives and other female relatives of the 75 jailed activists continue their ritual attendance of Sunday masses and peaceful protests asking for the release of current political prisoners.
During the last 8 years of the group's existence its members have been beaten, intimidated and imprisoned because of their non-violent protests. Yet, they do not give up, they show clear sign of protest by praying every Sunday in church and then walking through the towns, demonstrating the presence of the opposition through their actions. In the last two months, the Damas de Blanco group expanded their activity to Santiago de Cuba province, but the pro-Castro mob organised by the government violently suppressed their action. Also the police forces have been temporarily detaining, beating and intimidating them.
We believe that the activities of the Damas de Blanco are of great importance for Cubans, because they make people aware of the existence of the resistance. Those women inspire others to stand for their fundamental rights. In a totalitarian country where civil society is so fragmented that it is hardly visible, a clear sign of active non-violent resistance gives people the courage and hope that they often lack so much. Moreover, such violent reactions against women might be a clear sign of the fact that the government is much more fragile than it has ever been before.
Last but not least, we also want to demonstrate our respect and support for other women's groups organizing non-violent manifestations, standing for protection of the fundamental human rights in Cuba. Members of the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights organized recently a series of protests in Havana. As a consequence of their public protest in front of the Capitol, they were beaten, taken to a police station in Old Havana where they were humiliated and interrogated.
In the light of the abovementioned circumstances, we express our concern and solidarity with the peaceful civic movement in Cuba.
We call on the Cuban government to respect the non-violent demonstrations of Cuban citizens and their right to exercise the freedom of expression and thus to further the creation of an open pluralist society.
Asociación de Iberoamericanos por la Libertad, Spain
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Belgium
Fundacion Hispano Cubana, Spain
International Society for Human Rights, Germany
Lech Walesa Institute, Poland
People in Need, Czech Republic
People in Peril Association, Slovakia
The Eastern Europe Studies Centre, Lithuania
Italian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Italy
Statement by the Europe-Cuba NGO Network (pdf-form)