Cuba: Release and subsequent re-arrest of Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and María Josefa Acón Sardiñas and detention of approximatively 70 members of the Ladies in White

18/11/2015
Urgent Appeal
en es

New information
CUB 001 / 1015 / OBS 090.1
Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment
Cuba
November 18, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cuba.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the release and subsequent re-arrest of members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero and Ismael Bonet Reñé as well as Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas, also member of the Ladies in White, a peaceful protest group founded by female relatives of Cuban political prisoners.

According to the information received, on November 9, 2015, Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas were released from preventive detention. The three human rights defenders had been detained in Havana at the Centro de Detención Policial 100 y Aldabó since September 20, 2015 (see background information). Nonetheless, they remain judicially harassed by the Cuban authorities and charged with “contempt”, “public disorder” and “resistance”. As of issuing this urgent appeal, no court hearing was set yet.

According to the same information, on November 15, 2015, Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas were re-arrested in Havana after participating in a peaceful demonstration under the slogan “We All March” (#TodosMarchamos”).

Approximately 70 members of the Ladies in White were also arrested during the demonstration including Mss. Leticia Ramos Herreria, Annia Abascal Zamora, Sisy Abascal Zamora, Mercedes López Suárez and Marisol Fernández Socorro, members from the Matanzas Province. The 5 women human rights defenders, who were released at late evening hours on Sunday 15 in a location they denounced as dangerous, were threatened by a female State Security officer who warned them that if they travelled once more from Matanzas to Havana, they would be charged with contempt, disobedience, disorderly conduct and infringement.

The Observatory condemns the re-arrest of Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas, and strongly deplores the ongoing judicial harassment against them. The Observatory calls upon the Cuban authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against them as they only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.

The Observatory further condemns the arrest of approximately 70 members of the Ladies in White including Mss. Leticia Ramos Herreria, Annia Abascal Zamora, Sisy Abascal Zamora, Mercedes López Suárez and Marisol Fernández Socorro and calls on the Cuban authorities to respect the legitimate activities of human rights defenders including the human right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Background information:

On September 20, 2015, Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas, along with other activists, were arrested while trying to approach Pope Francis in his car in Havana on his way to the mass he was giving, and dragged away by security personnel at Havana’s Revolution Square. Their intention was apparently to raise awareness over human rights violations and the increasing repression against Ladies in White, UNPACU, and other groups in Cuba.

These arbitrary detentions have been part of genuine wave of political and social repression that led to several “preventive detentions” that took place around Pope Francis’ visit, as denounced by Cuban human rights organisations. Activists have been arrested and detained by the authorities to prevent them from attending papal ceremonies.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cuba asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Ms. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas as they are targeted solely for their legitimate human rights activities;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Mss. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas, Leticia Ramos Herreria, Annia Abascal Zamora, Sisy Abascal Zamora, Mercedes López Suárez, Marisol Fernández Socorro, as well as against all human rights defenders in the country;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Zaqueo Báez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Reñé and Mss. María Josefa Acón Sardiñas, Leticia Ramos Herreria, Annia Abascal Zamora, Sisy Abascal Zamora, Mercedes López Suárez, Marisol Fernández Socorro as well as of all human rights defenders in Cuba;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with:

• article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels",

• article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;,

• as well as article 12.2, which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

v. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by Cuba.

Addresses:

• Mr. Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State of Cuba, La Habana, Cuba, Código Postal 10400, Fax: + 53 7 8333085 (through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), E-mail: f_castro@cuba.gov.cu
• Dr. Darío Delgado Cura, Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba, Avenida 1ra, No. 1801 e/ 18 y 20. Reparto Miramar, municipio Playa, CP 11 300, La Habana, Cuba, Tel: +53 7 206 9090.
• Mr. Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Calle G, No. 360 Vedado, Plaza de la Revolución La Habana, Cuba, Fax:+ 53 7 836 4500, 8333 085, E-mail: cubaminrex@minrex.gov.cu
• General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, Minister of Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba, Fax: + 53 7 855 6621 + 53 7 8301 566, Correo- E: correominint@mn.mn.co.cu
• Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations in Geneva, 100 chemin de Valérie, 1292 Chambésy, Fax: + 41 22 758 9431 E-mail: embacubaginebra@missioncuba.ch
• Embassy of Cuba in Brussels, 77 rue Roberts Jones, 1180 Uccle, Belgium, Fax : + 32 2 344 9661, E-mail: mision@embacuba.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cuba in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, November 18, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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