The World Movement for Democracy Expresses its Support for 26 Cuban Human Rights Activists on Hunger Strike
The World Movement for Democracy joins Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Cuban activist Jorge Vázquez Chaviano. We also express our unwavering support and solidarity with the 25 other activists, including Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello and Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antunez," who have joined Vázquez Chaviano in a hunger strike since September 10.
Cuban human rights activist Jorge Vázquez Chaviano, a member of the Central Opposition Coalition (Coalícion Central Opositora), was first charged with "unlawful economic activities" and sentenced to 18 months "correctional work without internment" in March 2011. He was then arrested on March 27 of this year when attempting to attend a mass by Pope Benedict XVI in Havana and forced to serve the remaining six months of his sentence in prison. Since the end date of his sentence passed on September 9, Vázquez Chaviano remains jailed by Cuban authorities without any explanation.
The World Movement for Democracy calls on the Cuban government to release Vázquez Chaviano immediately and end its practices of arbitrary, politically-motivated detentions of democratic activists. It also condemns the Cuban authorities' harassment of Vázquez Chavianao's wife, María del Carmen Hernández Martínez, and other members of his family, who have been detained and interrogated for speaking out against his ongoing and unjust detention.
As of September 10, Marta Beatriz Pérez Roque, Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antunez," and 23 other independent activists across Cuba joined Vázquez Chaviano in carrying out a hunger strike to protest his detention and the Cuban government's constant lack of compliance with international standards of justice, rule of law and human rights. The widespread hunger strike has drawn extensive international attention, including statements of solidarity by the Vice President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, the Community of Democracies Parliamentary Forum, and Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress Ileana Ros Lehtinen. Since 2010, two political prisoners - Wilman Villar Mendoza and Orlando Zapata Tamayo - have died in government custody while carry out hunger strikes to protest their imprisonment.
The World Movement for Democracy firmly expresses its solidarity with these brave and peaceful activists as they stand up against injustice and government oppression in their country. We also recognize the decisive leadership that Roque Cabello, García Pérez and the other activists have demonstrated in their struggle for democracy and urge them not to sacrifice their strength and health, which will be needed to help build a free Cuba in the years ahead.
Finally, the World Movement for Democracy stands with those activists in Cuba who peacefully seek to promote greater respect for internationally-recognized political and human rights standards in their country. Their movement to advance freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of the press, and the rule of law speak to the universal desire of all people to live in societies that are free of repression and violence. The World Movement encourages the international community to show solidarity with all peaceful democracy activists in Cuba and to speak out against the injustice and oppression that the Cuban government wages against its own citizens.
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