Cuba: Internet writers detained and beaten

English PEN is alarmed by reports that renowned internet writer Yoani Sánchez and fellow bloggers Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo and Claudia Cadelo were abducted and beaten by state security agents while on their way to a demonstration in Havana on 6 November 2009.

We at English PEN are concerned that the attack may signal the beginning of a new wave of repression against the new generation of bloggers who until now have enjoyed relative freedom in a country where writers are commonly imprisoned for their work. We are therefore calling on the Cuban authorities to respond to the allegations of the attack and, if they are founded, to bring the agents responsible to justice. We also continue to call for the unconditional release of the 26 writers, journalists and librarians currently in prison for their writings.


Internet writers Yoani Sánchez, Claudia Cadelo and Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo were reportedly abducted and assaulted while on their way to a peaceful demonstration in the capital Havana on 6 November 2009. According to our information, the three were walking to a march against violence against dissidents when unknown men forced them into an unmarked vehicle. One of the men, whom the bloggers believe were plainclothes state security agents, reportedly warned bystanders not to get involved as the writers were “counterrevolutionaries”. The three writers were beaten and threatened before being released.


Sánchez, who says that she was told by one of her assailants that her “clowning around” was over, reportedly needed to walk with a crutch for several days after the assault. There has been no official comment on or independent confirmation of the attacks to date.


Background:

Online journalism by Cuban journalists has flourished since the 1990s, according to a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), but today’s bloggers represent a new generation.

“Unlike the independent press of the 1990s, which was composed mostly of opposition activists with strong political views, today’s bloggers have established themselves as distinct from both the government and the dissident movement […] Whether by design or not, they have been shrewd in not directly challenging the Cuban regime”. (To read CPJ’s report, please click here.)

Sánchez has been writing her blog on everyday life in Cuba, Generación Y, since early 2007. The site reportedly receives one million hits per month and is translated into at least 15 languages. It has won Sánchez the Ortega y Gasset prize and the Mary Moors Cabot award from Columbia University for internet journalism, although the Cuban authorities have denied her permission to leave the country in order to receive the honours. Cadelo writes the blog Octavo Cerco.


Cuba keeps 26 writers, journalists and librarians in prison in violation of their right to freedom of expression. All are serving lengthy sentences – up to 27 years – on ‘anti-state’ or ‘social dangerousness’ charges in relation to their work. Most are in poor health yet have limited access to medical treatment. For more information, please click here.

 
Useful links:


Reports on the attack by:

• Index on Censorship (16 November 2009)

• Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) (8 November 2009
• Human Rights Watch (7 November 2009)
• Global Voices online (7 November 2009)

Take Action


Please send appeals:



• Protesting the abduction and assault of the internet writers Yoani Sánchez, Claudia Cadelo and Orlando Luís Pardo Lazo, reportedly by state security agents, while the writers were on their way to a peaceful demonstration in Havana on 6 November 2009;
• Expressing concern that the internet writers were targeted for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in violation of international law, including articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Cuba signed in February 2008;
• Calling on the authorities to ensure that those responsible for the attack are brought to justice;
• Also calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the 26 writers, journalists and librarians currently imprisoned in violation of their right to freedom of expression.


Appeals to:



Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: 53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (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: 53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister


We recommend that you also copies of your appeal letters to the diplomatic representatives of Cuba in your country:

His Excellency Renee Juan Mujica Cantelar
Cuban Embassy
167 High Holborn
London
WC1V 6PA

Email:embacuba@cubaldn.com
Fax: 020 7836 2602

** Please let us know if you send an appeal, and certainly if you receive a response from the Cuban authorities, by emailing writersinprison@englishpen.org ***

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/cubainternetwritersdetainedandbeaten/

About English PEN staff

This content is published by the English PEN staff.

View all posts by English PEN staff →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *