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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Free the Cuban Dissidents!

Berta Soler Fernandez, the wife of a political prisoner in Cuba, has written a powerful commentary piece for the Washington Post:

After Cuban authorities released seven political prisoners recently, some of us, wives of imprisoned Cuban dissidents, received calls from abroad rejoicing over these "liberations" and over the improved human rights situation in Cuba. But these were not liberations; the regime simply released a few sick men on parole. And in any event, all 75 dissidents detained in the spring crackdown of 2003 are prisoners of conscience, recognized by Amnesty International. All should be freed.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission has a similar message:

A special U.N. rights envoy has urged Cuba to free all political dissidents, grant freedom of expression and lift restrictions on travel.

In her annual report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, French magistrate Christine Chanet said Cuba had continued to arrest dissidents, while journalists had been "threatened and intimidated."

She also accused Cuba of giving "disproportionate" sentences to those jailed for the mere expression of views, and repeated her alarm at the jail conditions some prisoners faced.

Chanet, who was appointed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in early 2003 to probe allegations of abuse in Cuba, has been repeatedly refused permission to visit the Communist Caribbean state.

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