Miami (November 8, 2012).-The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today called on the Cuban government to immediately release the regional vice chair of its Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Yoani Sánchez.
Sánchez, a tireless and popular blogger who has fought for years for freedom in her country, was arrested along with some 20 recognized peaceful dissidents who, according to news reports, had met outside a police station in Havana with the aim of demanding the release of a group of independent activists and lawyers.
In addition to Sánchez among those arrested are former political prisoner Guillermo Fariñas, writers Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Angel Santiesteban and Eugenio Leal, and a number of former political prisoners belonging to the “Group of 75,” such as Angel Moya, Librado Linares, Félix Navarro, Iván Hernández Carrillo and Eduardo Díaz Fleitas.
Sánchez had just been named regional vice chair for Cuba of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.
“The arrest of Yoani Sánchez is a clear attack on the most elemental human rights, among them that of expressing freely, something that is prohibited in Cuba,” said Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.
From Havana the spokesman of the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), Elizardo Sánchez, declared to the Spanish News Agency EFE that “apparently this is a spiral of political repression in the capital.”
A blogger paid by the Cuban regime, Yohandry Fontana, confirmed Sánchez’ detention and spoke of her alleged “offenses” – “disturbance of public order” and “social indiscipline.”
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, said, “The message of the more than 50-year-long regime of the Castro brothers is very clear – anyone who does anything for someone arrested arbitrarily will also be arrested. It is a bid to intimidate those who have the courage to challenge those in power and deter those who are in agreement with them but are not yet ready to proceed.”
According to sources in the Cuban suffering dissidence police belonging to the Castroite repression violently attacked the now detained people as they were demanding the immediate release of a dozen activists who had already been arrested in the middle of this week.
The CCDHRN included in the first wave of arrests independent lawyers Yaremis Flores, Lartiza Diversent and Veisant Boloy, the director of the organization Estado de SATS, Antonio Rodiles, activists Andrés Pérez and Mario Morales, and Vladimir Torres, Rolando Reyes, Reinaldo Figueras and Luis Manuel Fumero.
Elizardo Sánchez said he was “sure that they have been jailed in cells at different Revolutionary National Police stations, where there are being kept incomunicado.”
According to the newspaper El Nuevo Herald the Estado de SAT project is a movement based in Havana that promotes the exchange of ideas and open discussion of the reality of the island.
In early October Yoani Sánchez had already been temporarily detained at an investigation center in Bayamo along with her husband, independent journalist Reynado Escobar, and blogger Agustín López.
“We demand with all our strength the immediate release of Yoani Sánchez and all the other people arbitrarily arrested for merely thinking differently than those that hold the reins of power,” Paulillo declared.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.