The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) condemns the arbitrary detention of José Daniel Ferrer, activist and leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). José Daniel Ferrer was arrested this past Tuesday, October 1 in a military operation carried out at UNPACU’s headquarters in Santiago de Cuba. We categorically reject this repression as well as the violation of Mr. Ferrer’s fundamental rights and liberties.
Ferrer is being detained at the Versalles Operation Center of Santiago de Cuba’s Department of State Security and is being held on charges of challenging the Cuban regime by allegedly supporting anti-Cuban U.S. policy measures. He is also accused of injuring activist Sergio García González, who suffered an accident while riding a motorcycle. Garcia González is being pressured by State Security to testify that Ferrer and other activists attacked him and caused his injuries.
“I am the oldest daughter of José Daniel Ferrer. They want to jail my father by fabricating a crime of lesiones (“injury”) so that he becomes a common prisoner and not a political prisoner” José Daniel’s daughter, via his official twitter account
In a video published on Facebook, the UNPACU activist Carlos Amel Oliva interviews Garcia Gonzalez’ wife, who confirms that her husband’s injuries were not caused by Ferrer. Although García Gonzales has refused to be contacted by both government authorities and by representatives of UNPACU, he remains in danger of being coerced into testifying against Ferrer.
This is not the first time that the Cuban State has tried to frame José Daniel Ferrer. Last year, the activist was a victim of a smear campaign that accused him of attempting to assassinate a policeman named Dainier Suárez Pagán, who jumped in front of Ferrer’s moving vehicle. However, witnesses present confirmed that Ferrer was innocent of the charges levied against him.
Race and Equality, in its recent report on the justice system in Cuba, finds that such methods are often used by the Cuban State to single out, accuse and criminalize those who oppose the current regime and political system. The State obtains sentences using a Penal Code that vaguely defines the charges most frequently faced by activists, human rights defenders and independent journalists.
We call on the Cuban State to respect and guarantee the rights of José Daniel Ferrer, reiterating that political liberty as well as freedom of expression and association are fundamental rights of any individual regardless of nationality or political association. Race and Equality demands the immediate release of Ferrer and the rest of the UNPACU activists who remain in arbitrary detention. We ask that the international community stand firmly against this repression of human rights defenders and reaffirm our commitment to the human rights of the Cuban people.
*Photograph taken from: www.cibercuba.com