The occasion of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Cuba provides an important opportunity to highlight the denial of freedom, democracy and basic human rights to the island's people.
The Communist authorities released many political prisoners last year in a deal brokered by the Catholic Church, following which most freed dissidents were forced into exile. But the recent death of imprisoned dissident Wilman Villar Mendoza following a 51-day hunger strike and the March 18 detention of up to 70 dissidents, including the celebrated Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco), provide a reminder that Cubans continue to face arbitrary arrest, inhumane prison conditions and the threat of exile simply for voicing dissent.
The following statement has been endorsed by Nobel laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, three former Latin American Presidents - Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez, Costa Rica (1982 - 1986), Alfredo Cristiani, El Salvador (1989 - 1994), Armando Calderón Sol, El Salvador (1994 -1999), Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal, former Canadian Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, alongside such eminent dissidents, democracy advocates and human rights activists as Martin Palous, Director of Vaclav Havel Library, Prague; French philosopher and writer Andre Glucksmann; Roman Catholic writer and theologian Michael Novack; Dr Alaksandr Milinkievic, 2006 Sakharov Prize Laureate, Belarus; several leading Chinese dissidents and 14 Members of the Lithuanian Parliament.
Please add your signature to endorse the following statement as a gesture of solidarity with the people of Cuba and one of the world's most resilient democracy movements:
The world was reminded of the human cost of denial of fundamental freedoms in Cuba by the recent tragic deaths of imprisoned dissident Wilman Villar Mendoza, following a hunger strike, and Laura Inés Pollán Toledo, leader of the internationally-renowned Ladies in White.
Over the past year, we also witnessed the deaths of human rights activists Orlando Zapata Tamayo, following a hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment for his ideas, and Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, who died as a result of a brutal beating by security forces.
The fate of these nonviolent democracy advocates reiterates the moral imperative to demand freedom and justice for Cuba's people.
We urge Cuba's government to use the occasion of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's forthcoming visit to restrain the government's security forces and quasi-civilian proxies from harassing dissidents. Such a gesture would help create a space for reflection and dialog that will allow Cuba's people to transcend intolerance and animosity through the recovery of civil liberties and the development of a full and vibrant democracy, without any further loss of human life.
"You are not victims," Pope John Paul II told Cuba's people during his visit in 1998. "You are and must be the principal agents of your own personal and national history."
It is time for repression to cease so that Cubans can exercise their freedoms in pursuit of that vision.
Please sign this petition:
I urge Cuba’s government to use the occasion of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's visit to end the harassment of dissidents and help create a space for dialogue that will allow Cuba's people to recover their civil liberties and develop a full and vibrant democracy.
Español: Pido al gobierno de Cuba a aprovechar la ocasión de la visita de su Santidad el Papa Benedicto XVI para poner fin al acoso a los disidentes y ayudar a crear un espacio de diálogo que permitirá al pueblo de Cuba a recuperar sus libertades civiles y el desarrollo de una democracia plena y vibrante.
You have the opportunity to save lives in Cuba.
SIGN & SHARE with your friends via social media.
Carlos E. Ponce, GC Redlad: email@example.com
Enrique de Obarrio, AI Redlad: firstname.lastname@example.org
A transatlantic consortium of pro-democracy and civil society groups, including Forum 2000, UN Watch, People in Need, and the World Movement for Democracy, secured the signatories’ endorsement of the statement. Several dignitaries, intellectuals, former presidents, leaders from civil society groups and democracy supporters like you already signed the petition:
Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President and Co-Founder, Stop Child Executions, Iran /Canada.
Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez, President of the Republic (1982 - 1986), Costa Rica.
Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Virginia Aponte, Theater Director, Venezuela.
Petras Auštrevičius, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Igor Blaževič, One World, Czech Republic.
Amina Bouayach, President of Moroccan Organization for Human Rights, Morocco.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell.
Anna Maria Stame Cervone, President, Christian Democratic Women International, Italy.
Christian Democratic International Center, Sweden.
Michael Craig, President, China Rights Network, Canada.
Alfredo Cristiani, President (1989 - 1994), El Salvador.
Cuba Futuro, Netherlands.
Christina Fu, President, New Hope Foundation, USA/China.
Faisal Fulad, Secretary-General, Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, Bahrain.
Fundación Hispano Cubana, Spain.
Vytautas Gapšys, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Andre Glucksmann, philosopher and writer, France.
Huang Hebian, Alliance of the Guard of Canadian Values, Canada/China.
Yang Jianli, Initiatives for China, Founder and President, USA/China.
Andrew Johnston, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Advocacy Director, United Kingdom.
Art Kaufmann, World Movement for Democracy, USA.
Yang Kuanxing, Yibao, Editor, USA/China.
Dalia Kuodytė, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Secretary/Executive Director, Gram Bharati Samiti, India.
Martin Lessenthin, International Society for Human Rights, Germany.
Arminas Lydeka, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Eligijus Masiulis, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Donalda Meiželytė, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Dr Alaksandr Milinkievic, Movement for Freedom, 2006 Sakharov Prize Laureate, Belarus.
Hillel Neuer, Director, UN Watch, Switzerland.
Michael Novak, Roman Catholic writer and theologian, USA.
Martin Palous, Director of Vaclav Havel Library, Prague
Marija Aušrinė Pavilionienė, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Léonie de Picciotto, International Council of Jewish Women, Representative to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.
Hu Ping, Beijing Spring, Editor, USA/China.
Nguyên Lê Nhân Quyên, Vietnamese League for Human Rights, Vietnam.
Zuzana Roithová, Member of European Parliament, Czech Republic.
Julius Sabatauskas, Member of the Lithuanian Parliament.
Karel Schwarzenberg, Foreign Minister, Czech Republic.
Armando Calderón Sol, President, (1994 -1999), El Salvador.
Marek Svoboda, Director of Human Rights, People in Need, Czech Republic.
Swedish International Liberal Center, Sweden.
Algirdas Sysas, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal, Jordan.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel laureate, South Africa.
Ona Valiukevičiūtė, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Egidijus Vareikis, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Birutė Vėsaitė, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Carlos E. Ponce, General Coordinator, Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy
Sister Catherine Waters, OP, Catholic International Education Office, Representative to the UN, USA.
Rokas Žilinskas, Member of Parliament, Lithuania.
Dr. Oscar Alvarez, Director Ejecutivo, Redlad, Costa Rica
Prof. Javier Loaiza, Director Escuela de Gobierno Tomas Moro
Cecilia Valdes, Directora Corporación Proyecto América, Chile
Emb. Enrique de Obarrio, Vicepresidente del Sector Privado de las Americas, Panama
Marta Gaba, Directora Capacitacion Redlad, Argentina
Patricia Galvez, Directora General Cedeal, Ecuador
Félix Navarro Rodríguez, ex prisionero de conciencia e integrante del grupo de los 75 prisioneros de la Primavera Negra de Cuba 2003
Manuel Castro Rodríguez, Profesor universitario, Cuban, Live in Panama