Amnesty International Names New Cuban Prisoner of Conscience

Friday, April 3, 2015
From Amnesty International:

URGENT ACTION: Political Dissident Must be Released

Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez has been detained in Cuba since June 2014. He was sentenced inDecember 2014 to one year’s imprisonment for “public disorder”. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

On 5 June 2014, Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez, a political dissident and activist who is a member of various independent organizations in Cuba, organized and participated in a demonstration in the streets of Placetas, Santa Clara Province, in central Cuba. He displayed a banner which stated “Student Revolutionary Directorate” (Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil, DRE) and shouted slogans against the government such as “Down with the revolution!” (Abajo la Revolución); “Down with Fidel, down with Raúl Castro!” (Abajo Fidel, abajo Raúl).

Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez was arrested and subsequently released on the same day, however on 12 June 2014, the District Attorney of Villa Clara placed him under house arrest on accusations of “public disorder.” On 15 June, in order to visit his father on Father’s Day, Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez called the local police station to request temporary permission to leave his house. Although the officer in charge gave him verbal authorization, Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez was arrested by a police patrol while on his way to his father’s house.

In September 2014, the Attorney General’s office charged him with “public disorder”, (desorden público) “public disorder of a continuous nature”, (desordenes publicos de carácter continuado) and “disrespect” (desacato), and demanded he be given four years’ imprisonment. Ciro Alexis Peréz Casanova was tried in November 2014 at the Popular Municipal Court of Placetas which convicted and sentenced him on 30 December to one year’s imprisonment. The Court rejected the accusations of “disrespect“ and of “public disorder of a continuous nature“, and only found Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez guilty of “public disorder“. He has been serving his sentence at El Pendiente prison until he was moved to Manaca prison in February 2015. Both are situated in Villa Clara province. Amnesty International considers this sentence to be politically motivated, relating to his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, and that it is intended to send a message of intimidation to other government critics.