News and Facts about Cuba

Cuba: Further information: Women denied right to protest – Amnesty International

"Document – Cuba: Further information: Women denied right to protest

Further information on UA: 256/11 Index: AMR 25/004/2011 Cuba Date: 1
September 2011



A group of female relatives of prisoners of conscience in Cuba and their
supporters were again prevented from organizing a peaceful protest on 28
August . They have been harassed and intimidated by state officials
since mid-July for their peaceful activities.

The Ladies in White (), a group of female relatives of
former prisoners of conscience and current political prisoners, and the
Ladies in Support (Damas de Apoyo), have since mid-July faced arbitrary
arrest and physical assault from members of the security forces and
government supporters in the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba and
surrounding towns.

On 28 August, 13 Damas gathered at the home of Aimée Garcés Leyva with
the plan to go to the cathedral of Santiago de Cuba in order to attend
mass, and afterward organize a peaceful protest around the cathedral.
However, according to testimonies from some of the women, the house was
surrounded early in the morning by cars and female
officers. Testimonies say the Damas were ill-treated by the officers and
forced into buses. As on previous Sundays, they were driven near to
their hometowns in the province of Santiago de Cuba and released. The
Damas also claims that police officers took computers, cell phones,
photo cameras, memory flash drives, book notes and other external hard
drives from the home of Aimée Garcés Leyva.

Two other Damas who were driving from Holguín to Santiago de Cuba on 27
August, complained to have been violently in the municipality
of Bayamo. They were brought back to Holguín where they spent a night in

The Damas are planning to try to organize a silent protest on 4
September, and every subsequent Sunday, to call for the release of
prisoners they believe to have been jailed for their activities.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

calling on the authorities to permit the Ladies in White and Ladies in
Support to march peacefully on Sundays and attend religious services
without unreasonable restrictions;

urging them to cease immediately the harassment and intimidation of the
Ladies in White, Ladies in Support and any other citizens who seek to
exercise peacefully their rights to of and association.

asking them to thoroughly and independently investigate the accusations
of ill-treatment by police officers on the Ladies in White and Ladies in
Support and bring those responsible to justice respecting international


Head of State and Government

Raúl Castro Ruz


La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Foreign Ministry); +1 2127791697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)

Email: (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)

Salutation: Su Excelencia/

Your Excellency

Interior Minister

General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra

Ministro del Interior y Prisiones

Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +537 8556621, +1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)


Salutation: Su Excelencia/

Your Excellency

And copies to

First Secretary, Cuban Communist Party of Santiago de Cuba

Lázaro Espósito

Primer Secretario del Partido Comunista de Santiago de Cuba

Avenida Garzón 51

Plaza de Martes

Santiago de Cuba

Provincia de Santiago de Cuba


Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
date. This is the first update of UA 256/11. Further information:


ADditional Information

In 2003, over several days, the Cuban authorities arrested 75 men and
women for their peaceful expression of critical opinions of the
government. They were subjected to summary trials and were sentenced to
terms of up to 28 years. Amnesty International declared the 75
convicted dissidents to be prisoners of conscience, and the last of them
was released in April 2011.

The Damas de Blanco organizes peaceful marches where they distribute
flowers and call for the release of their relatives and friends. In
2005, the Damas de Blanco were awarded The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of
Thought by the European Parliament.

The Damas de Apoyo emerged as a solidarity group who support and
participate in activities organized by the Damas de Blanco.

There are now 35 Damas de Blanco and Apoyo from the eastern provinces of
Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Las Tunas, Granma and Guantánamo.

The Damas de Blanco and Damas de Apoyo have repeatedly suffered
harassment and intimidation during their peaceful activities. In central
Havana on 18 August 2011, 49 Damas were prevented from carrying out a
protest in support of their members in Santiago de Cuba and other
eastern provinces. Government supporters physically forced them to
return to their homes. On 14 August only three of 22 Damas who travelled
to Santiago de Cuba managed to enter the Cathedral for mass. Five of
them were arrested before mass began, and taken to various police
stations in the city and held for several hours. The 14 other Damas were
stopped at a police checkpoint 11 km outside the city and forced off the
they were travelling in by women police officers. Nine of them,
including Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, the wife of former of
conscience José Daniel Ferrer García, were kicked and slapped as they
were pushed into police cars and returned to their homes.

On 21 August, 11 Damas gathered at the home of Aimée Garcés Leyva in the
town of Palma Soriano. Some 100 people, including police and government
supporters, surrounded the house for several hours. When the women tried
to leave, police pushed them and pulled their hair before forcing them
into buses. They were driven a few kilometres, then taken in police cars
and dropped near their hometowns in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba
and Holguín.

Name: Damas de Blanco and Damas de Apoyo

Gender m/f: f

Further information on UA: 256/11 Index: AMR 25/004/2011 Issue Date: 1
September 2011"

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