Press Release: “The regime lies, in Cuba there are hundreds of political prisoners”, says a prisoner’s sister during conference announcing effort to expel Cuba from the UN Human Rights Council

PRESS RELEASE

“The regime lies, in Cuba there are hundreds of political prisoners”, says a prisoner’s sister during conference announcing effort to expel Cuba from the UN Human Rights Council

Contacts: John Suarez (612) -367-6845 and Janisset Rivero 786-208-6056

Press conference at the Cuban Studies Institute

Center for a Free Cuba. Miami, April 25, 2022. The Center for a Free Cuba (CFC) hosted a press conference where Katiuska Mustelier Sosa, sister of political prisoner Enrique Mustelier Sosa, drew attention to the situation of her brother as well as that of other detainees [ Lisandra Gongora, Exeynt Beyrut Rodriguez, Yordis Garcia Fournier, Yobel Sevila Martinez, Eriberto Tellez Reinosa, Roger Sanchez George, Ana Luisa Avila Morales, Jesus David Rodriguez Prevot, and Leidis Garcia Fuentes ] during the July 2021 protests.

“I am currently denouncing the Cuban dictatorship for keeping my brother imprisoned. A tremendous injustice that they committed against him because he was imprisoned as a result of the peaceful protests on July 11 and was sentenced to 4 years and 8 months in prison. And I am denouncing this violation of human rights in Cuba not only with what they have done to my brother but with all those brave Cubans who dared to go to the streets to denounce the regime and who are suffering in prison today. We are denouncing to the world that there are political prisoners in Cuba, that Cuba violates human rights, that in Cuba there is no freedom of expression or freedom of association,” said Katiuska Mustelier, who returned from the island just a few days ago and was able to see her jailed brother in Cuba.

Enrique Mustelier Sosa

During the press conference, John Suárez, Executive Director of the Center for a Free Cuba, presented the text of an appeal with more than 600 signatures petitioning to expel the Castro regime from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“We are basing this appeal on article 8 of the founding resolution of the UN Human Rights Council which states that violating countries will be suspended. Russia was recently expelled from the Council for its acts against humanity and violation of human rights in Ukraine. The specific language states:

8. Decides that the membership in the Council shall be open to all Member States of the United Nations; when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto; the General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting, may suspend the rights of membership in the Council of a member of the Council that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights;

The regime in Havana not only violates the human rights of all Cubans in the island but is also an element of destabilization and torture within the Latin American region against Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and many other countries in the hemisphere,” said Suárez.

Katiuska Mustelier explained to the press that in addition to highlighting the plight of her brother and other detainees in July 2021, she denounced the disappearance and possible murder of her father Enrique Mustelier Turro, who was serving 17 years in political prison and disappeared.

Enrique Mustelier Turro

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Expel Cuba from the UN Human Rights Council

We condemn the UN General Assembly decision to elect Cuba’s Castro regime to be one of the 47 member states on the UN Human Rights Council, for the 2020-2022 term.

Havana spent decades at the vanguard of undermining international human rights standards. Here are two examples of Cuba’s Castro regime’s attacks on human rights in the UN Human Rights Council in the past.

On March 28, 2008 the Cuban delegation, together with the Organization of the Islamic Congress, successfully passed resolutions that turned the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression from defending free expression to policing freedom of expression

Less than a year later, on February 2, 2009 during the first Universal Periodic Review of China, Cuban Ambassador, Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios, recommended that China repress human rights defenders with more firmness making a mockery out of the new human rights instrument.

The Castro regime does not deserve to be on the Council undermining international human rights standards. It deserves to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for its own human rights violations committed while presently on the Council.

  • Since 1989 the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not been permitted to inspect conditions in Cuban prisons, although between 2002 and the present the ICRC visited detainees over 100 times at the United States Guantanamo Naval Base prison in eastern Cuba.

  • Cuba is the only country in the Americas that Amnesty International, and other independent human rights monitors, cannot visit, and where independent human rights groups are considered illegal.

  • While on the UN Human Rights Council the Cuban government has engaged in escalating violence and repression against Cuban nationals.

  • On July 11, 2021 tens of thousands of Cubans across the island in over 50 cities and towns took part in large non-violent demonstrations chanting “freedom”, “yes, we can”, “we are not afraid. Protests, despite the harsh government response, would continue until July 13th.

  • President Miguel Díaz-Canel appeared on national Cuban television on July 11, 2021 declaring: “They [protesters] would have to pass over our dead bodies if they want to confront the revolution, and we are willing to resort to anything.” (Source: https://youtu.be/STkFxRS6gH4 ) … “We are calling on all the revolutionaries of the country, all the communists, to take to the streets and go to the places where these provocations are going to take place today from now on, and in all these days and face it decisively, firmly, with courage.” (Source: https://youtu.be/pd5SAVZkbVU ) The Cuban president concluded his address stating “the order of combat is given, revolutionaries take to the streets.” (Source: https://youtu.be/t7MX8O3L5WM ). This combat order was an incitement to violence by government security forces against civilians. (Sources: Freedom House, RSF).

  • Protesters and journalists reported beatings of protesters and multiple cases of arbitrary detentions. (Source: Human Rights Watch) Amnesty International received reports on July 12, 2021 of “internet outages, arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force, including police firing on protesters, and allegations that there are a long list of missing people. ” (Source: Amnesty International).

  • On July 12, 2021 Rosa María Payá reported that a source in Santiago de Cuba said “Five dead… more than 20 people arrived at the provincial hospital with severe injuries… an old man who had his brains knocked out with a stick.” (Source: CubaDecide).

  • Videos emerged of National Revolutionary Police firing on protesters, riot police dressed in black also firing on protesters, and Cuban civilians with gunshot wounds, including one fatally shot. Other videos showed security forces violently assaulting nonviolent protesters, and busing in and arming supporters to attack protesters. ( Source: Center for a Free Cuba )

  • The Cuban government officially recognized one Cuban killed on July 12th during the protests, Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, (age 36). (Source: BBC News) He was shot in the back by regime officials on day two of nationwide protests in Cuba in a suburb of Havana. (Source: European Parliament, Proyecto Inventario, CubaDecide). NGOs placed the number at five, but the total number remains unknown. Received anecdotal reports that family members of others killed have been threatened to remain silent.

  • Hundreds of Cubans were (and are) being subjected to summary trials in express courts without defense attorneys. (Sources: ISHR, Havana Times). Hundreds more, including children, were sentenced to long prison terms of up to 30 years for taking part in the 11J protests.

  • Decree-Law 35 issued by the dictatorship entered into force on August 18, 2021. The new law penalizes “ethical and social” harm done “or incidents of aggression”, “or defamations that harm “the prestige of the country” on social media, reported 14ymedio. The text entering into force was approved on April 13, 2021. This law expands restrictions on publishing online. (Source: PEN, Freedom House, HRW)

  • Today, Havana is backing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, repeating disinformation, and persecuting Cubans on the island who demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The election of the Cuban regime of Raul Castro to the Human Rights Council in 2020 made a mockery of the dysfunctional international human rights body.

Now is the time to clean up the dysfunctional human rights council so that it can carry out its duties at this critical time.

Therefore, we request that the UN General Assembly invoke Article 8 of the Council’s founding resolution and remove Cuba’s Castro regime on account of its gross and systematic violations of human rights. More than ever, the world has to stand with the victims in Cuba, and not with the wrongdoer.

Sign petition here.

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