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Veřejná akce na podporu kubánských politických vězňů

2007-03-22 / Jiří Knitl

Člověk v tísni již po čtvrté připomíná smutné kubánské výročí

Společnost Člověk v tísni zorganizovala veřejný happening na podporu kubánských politických vězňů a jejich rodin. Akce připomněla již čtvrté výročí brutálního zákroku kubánského režimu Fidela Castra, při kterém bylo v roce 2003 zatčeno na Kubě 75 opozičních politických aktivistů a následně odsouzeno k vysokým trestům odnětí svobody. Většina ze zatčených je nadále vězněna i přes protesty světové veřejnosti. Více informací naleznete zde. Fotografie z happeningu zde.

Symbolic prison cell in Prague, Czech Republic

2007-03-21 / Jiří Knitl

People in Need commemorated the fourth anniversary of a brutal crackdown on democratic opposition in Cuba, during which Castro’s regime imprisoned 75 political activists in March 2003. (pictures here)

On Thursday, March 15, 2007, People in Need organized a demonstration outside the Cuban embassy on Sibiřském náměstí (Siberian Square) in Prague 6. The demonstration called for the release of Cuban political prisoners and expressed support for the Cuban democratic opposition.

As in past years, PIN built a symbolic Cuban prison cell on Wenceslas square in the centre of the Czech capital, On Friday, March 16, 2007, distinguished Czech personalities, symbolically dressed in prisoner’s clothes, ‘served time‘ for each of the Cuban political prisoners. During the day women representatives of Charter 77, a former Czech dissident movement, were symbolically imprisoned as a gesture of their support of Cuban political prisoners’ wives (Damas de Blanco). In the late afternoon theatre performances took place near the prison cell. The happening ended by a joint parade dedicated to the Damas de Blanco, which finished in St. Havel’s Church, where holy mass was celebrated for political prisoners in Cuba.

Cubalibre events in Sofia

2007-03-19 / Cubalibre

The Cubalibre association, Bulgaria, organized on March 19-20, 2007, two days of film screening of independent and new documentaries on Cuba that show the reality in which Cubans live.

Public reading from the book Dirty Havana Trilogy of Pedro Juan Gutierrez and discussion about literature and politics and what we could do on Cuba also took place. A Cubalibre booklet was published, containing information on the association, what has happened since the first Cubalibre days in January 2006, on films in the program and the book of Gutierrez. A chain of international solidarity was announced, in connection with the anniversary of the Black Spring 2003, and a mailing list of volunteers and people interested in Cuba was created.

Pontis Foundation event in Bratislava, Slovakia

2007-03-18 / Martin Pasiak

Slovak members of the European Parliament, members of the Slovak parliament, well-known directors and actors, priests, journalists, representatives of NGOs in Slovakia, former Slovak dissidents, and medicine doctors – all these agreed to enter symbolic prison to express their solidarity with the fates of Cuban political prisoners. (pictures here)

The Pontis Foundation organized the public event called The Cage of Solidarity in Bratislava, Slovakia, on March 16 to commemorate the 4th anniversary of massive crackdown of the civil society in Cuba in 2003. This event was a part of a large international campaign that took place in various European capitals.

All of the people that entered the symbolic prison were highly motivated – for example, members of the European Parliament each adopted a Cuban political prisoner, and they spent a symbolic minute for every year that their adopted prisoners has to spent in prison. All the politicians agreed that they have a certain moral obligation toward these people since in former Czechoslovakia, there used to be a regime very similar to Castro’s.

Those who walked on Hviezdoslav square last Friday shortly afternoon could hear very strong and convincing speeches from 3 priests, each concentrating of the necessity of freedom and the price that has to be paid for it. “Slovakia should at all times support those who fight for freedom,” said Anton Srholec, Catholic priest and former political prisoner of the Czechoslovak communist regime. The passers-by could also view a display of stories of several Cuban political prisoners that are regularly supported from Slovakia. They also received information about the crackdown in 2003, current human rights situation in Cuba and about the activities that Slovak NGOs are doing in Cuba.

The Pontis Foundation would like to thank all the people that clearly expressed their opinion about human rights and freedom: Slovak members of the European Parliament Anna Záborská (KDH), Milan Gaľa (SDKÚ-DS), Monika Flašíková-Beňová (Smer-SD), Arpád Duka-Zolyómi (SMK), Peter Šťastný (SDKÚ-DS), members of the Slovak parliament Pavol Hrušovský (KDH) and Martin Fedor (SDKÚ-DS), directors Juraj Johanides and Dušan Hanák, actors Boris Farkaš and Matej Landl, priests Anton Srholec, Ján Krstiteľ Baláž and Daniel Pastirčák, journalist Juraj Alner, political scientist and former disident Miroslav Kusý, members of OKS Ondrej Dostál, Juraj Petrovič and Viera Satinská, representative of NGO sector Petra Masácová, Slovak doctors and people from NGOs dealing with human rights in Cuba – The Pontis Foundation and People in Peril.

Our thanks also belong to all those who contributed to the public collection aimed to help the families of the political prisoners in Cuba.

Solemn vigil by the ISHR, Germany

2007-03-18 / Sabina

On 17th of March 2007 the ISHR held a commemoration day for those Cuban refugees, who lost their lives in March 1994 when a ship with refugees sank. On the occasion of the 13th anniversary of this tragic accident the ISHR organised last Saturday solemn vigils in various German cities.

In Frankfurt volunteers of the ISHR office positioned themselves in the city centre at the Hauptwache, near the national Cuban tourist office. They distributed information materials (the magazine Menschenrechte as well as the updated Cuba report), collected signatures for the political prisoners in Cuba and sought discussion with the passers-by.

In Karlsruhe a group of students set up an information desk about the human rights violations in Cuba. They held their solemn vigil at the always well-attended market place between the castle of Karlsruhe and the pyramid and in spite of the bad weather they met a lot of interested people. Especially teenagers were pleased with the fact that people in their age were standing up for human rights in the world. With re-enacted scenes the students tried to raise attention for the human rights violations happening in Cuba.

That they furthermore could collect quite a few signatures for the wrongly detained in Cuba made the students very happy and was an important experience for them - through this they could send an important signal of solidarity to the prisoners in Cuba and the international public.

Events in Netherlands

2007-03-18 / Bart Huttinga

A review of the Cuba event, Sunday 18 March

The Cuba Platform, which consists of IKV Pax Christi, the Dutch Union of Journalists, the Christian Trade Union Federation CNV, Amnesty International, Glasnost in Cuba, CLAT Netherlands and Cuba Futuro, held three activities in Utrecht on 18 March 2007 to draw attention to the human rights situation in Cuba. It was on that day four years ago that the Cuban government arrested 75 writers, journalists, union leaders and human rights activists. They were given sentences of up to 28 years, for ‘violating state security’. The majority of them, about 60 people, are still in detention.

The programme started with a special service in St Jan's church in Utrecht, with special attention to the Cuban political prisoners and the Damas de Blanco, the women who demonstrate for their release every Sunday in Cuba. A moving passage from a letter written by a Cuban prisoner to his Dutch ‘adopter’ was read out. The congregation also held a collection in support of Damas de Blanco. As a gesture of solidarity with the Damas, more than eighty people took part in a demonstrative procession through the centre of Utrecht after the service. They wore white clothing, and carried white flowers and portrait photographs of the imprisoned dissidents. The group was addressed in Dom square by Christian Democrat member of parliament Kathleen Ferrier.

More than one hundred concerned people gathered in the Florin bar on Sunday afternoon for a debate on Cuba's near future and the role of the Netherlands and Europe in a forthcoming democratic transition on the island. Discussion leader Jan Donkers opened with the words “Cuba was once a country that represented hope: hope for a just society. But now many are left with a taste of betrayal in their mouths.” He led a debate between René Paas (Christian Trade Union Federation chairman), Kathleen Ferrier (Christian Democrat member of parliament), Kees van Kortenhof (Glasnost in Cuba) and Ewout Irrgang (Socialist Party member of parliament), with the audience joining in. The first three found themselves in agreement: Raúl Castro is now firmly in the saddle, and changes in the direction of freedom are more likely to be economic than political. Mr Irrgang was more optimistic, Saying that developments on the island may proceed at a surprisingly rapid pace, pointing out that “I couldn't have predicted in 1985 that the Berlin wall was going to come down in 1989.”

The Cuba Platform also produced a single-issue Cuba newspaper to raise awareness of the situation in Cuba among a wide Dutch public. The newspaper was written by both Cuban and Dutch journalists, union members and politicians. The newspaper was written in freedom – without state censorship – something that is unthinkable in Cuba. The newspaper requested people to sign a petition urging the Cuban government to free the Cuban political prisoners, to cease human rights violations and to premit political and civil freedoms. (link to the newspaper to be added).

March events in Slovakia organized by the People in Peril Association

2007-02-28 / Ivana Kullova

People in Peril Association prepared a series of commemorative events in various cities of Slovakia in days from 14th to 16th March. A screening of documentary Cuba Libre: El Mayor Deseo and a discussion about Cuba took place in Zilina – open cultural center Station, Kremnica – High School for children with hearing disability, High School Turcianske Teplice and University in Trnava. There was also a photo exhibition of pictures from PIPA missions to Cuba there. The mass for the dissidents was held in Trnava and Kremnica.

In Bratislava, an evening cultural event named “The real Cuba” took place between 6 pm and 9 pm in the A4- Zero space club in the city centre. The visitors had a possibility to try typical Cuban food, as well as rum drinks, the photos of the political prisoners and the film Cuba Libre: El Mayor Deseo will be screened. The event was ended up by a concert of the Cuban music.

During the events in the above mentioned cities, the public was asked to sign a petition for release of all the Cuban political prisoners which was afterwards delivered to the Embassy of Cuban republic in Slovakia.

People in Peril Association had a joint press conference with the Pontis Foundation on Thursday, March 15th. The aim of the press conference was to point at the situation of the political prisoners in Cuba and to give to attention the commemorative events which both the organizations have prepared.

Other European Events

2007-02-27 / Jiri Knitl

GERMANY - Berlin (Boris Santa Coloma)
German NGO Kuba-Demokratische Zukunft (“Cuba Futuro-Demorático”) distributed informative leaflets on situation in Cuba in the entrance of Berlin international travel fair.

SWEDEN - Stockholm (Annika Rigo)
Christian Democratic International Center and Swedish International Liberal Centre organized an event in the Swedish Parliament on the 19th of March.


This project is supported by funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic through the Transition Promotion Program.