Six facts about censorship in Cuba

Amnesty Kuba  (11.03.2016, 00.00 Uhr)


Six facts about censorship in Cuba

To mark the World Day against Cyber Censorship on 12 March, here are six things you should know about free speech, the internet and online censorship in Cuba.

The re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba in December 2014 brought renewed hope for an end to the US economic embargo, which has had a dire impact on the human rights of ordinary Cubans. But while tourists flock to the island to experience its romantic, old-world charm before it “changes”, less romantic is its history of restricting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, still shown in the authorities’ determination to stifle dissent.

1. Freedom of expression can land you in jail in Cuba.

Graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as “El Sexto”, found this out when he was locked up for most of 2015 for painting the names of Raúl and Fidel – the names of the Castro brothers who have been in power since 1959 – on the backs of two live pigs. He had planned to release the animals as part of an artistic performance but, before he could, he was accused of desacato (contempt) and thrown in prison for 10 months. He was never formally charged or brought before a judge.

2. The state has a virtual monopoly on print and broadcast media.

The Cuban Constitution recognizes freedom of the press but expressly prohibits private ownership of the mass media. While independent journalists and bloggers have emerged in recent years, the authorities continue to prevent journalists critical of the government from doing their jobs. On International Human Rights Day 2015, journalists at 14ymedio – established by prominent cyber activist Yoani Sanchez – were prevented from reporting on a protest coordinated by human rights groups The Ladies in White and TodosMarchamos. According to one journalist, state security agents blocked the door to the building they worked in and told him: “Today you are not going out.”

3. Cuba is one of the least connected countries in the Americas.

Until 2008, the government banned ownership of computer and DVD equipment in Cuba. Today only 25 per cent of Cubans use the internet, while only five per cent of homes are connected. Internet access is still prohibitively expensive for most, and far from accessible to all. Cuba has said it will double access in the next five years, with public Wi-Fi hot spots starting to open since March 2015, but it remains the most disconnected country in the Americas.

4. Internet access in Cuba is censored.

With access to internet so limited, online censorship is not that sophisticated in Cuba. Authorities frequently filter and intermittently block websites that are critical of the state. Limiting access to information in this way is a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information.

5. Communicating with Cuban human rights activists from overseas is difficult.

Amnesty International, along with many other independent international human rights monitors, including UN Special Rapporteurs, are not allowed to access Cuba. The landline, mobile and internet connections of government critics, human rights activists and journalists are often monitored or disabled. In the lead-up to Pope Benedict’s three-day visit to Cuba in September 2012, a communications blockade prevented Amnesty International and other international organizations from gathering information on a wave of detentions that were taking place. Communicating with Cuban human rights activists remains challenging, particularly at times when the authorities are arresting people based on their political opinion.

6. Cubans are savvy about how to circumvent censorship and government restrictions to internet access.

From underground Wi-Fi, to creating apps, to harnessing the power of USBs, Cubans are finding ways to share information and avoid cyber censorship. World Day against Cyber Censorship is a time to show solidarity with Cuban dissidents, activists, journalists andtheir struggle. Amnesty International has joined with AdBlock on the World Day Against Cyber Censorship to raise awareness about the crackdown on free speech across the world. AdBlock is a tool that helps web users to block unwanted ads, and on 12 March 2016 it will replace banner ads with content censors in certain countries wouldn’t want people to see.

Amnesty: Gabriel muss sich in Kuba für Menschenrechte einsetzen

Amnesty Kuba  (07.01.2016, 00.00 Uhr)

International/Kuba/Deutschland/Menschenrechte/ Amnesty: Gabriel muss sich in Kuba für Menschenrechte einsetzen

Havanna (dpa) - Die Menschenrechtsorganisation Amnesty International hat Vizekanzler Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) aufgefordert, bei seinem Kuba-Besuch auf die Einhaltung der Menschenrechte zu pochen. Die Sprecherin der Kuba-Koordinationsgruppe von Amnesty, Gabriele Stein, sagte der Deutschen Presse-Agentur, die Freilassung politisch Verfolgter Anfang 2015 sei ein erster wichtiger Schritt zur Verbesserung der Menschenrechtssituation auf Kuba gewesen.

Seinerzeit hatte Kuba auf Bitten der USA mehr als 50 Gefangene auf freien Fuß gesetzt. «Aber seitdem hat sich die Menschenrechtslage auf der Insel eher wieder verschlechtert als verbessert», erklärte Stein.

Noch immer sei es in Kuba praktisch unmöglich, friedlich Kritik an der kubanischen Regierung zu äußern. Allein im November 2015 gab es nach Amnesty-Angaben mehr als 1400 politisch motivierte Kurzzeit-Inhaftierungen, einige der Inhaftierten hätten von exzessiver Gewaltanwendung seitens der Polizei berichtet.

Bundeswirtschaftsminister Gabriel und die ihn begleitenden 60 deutschen Manager sollten neben den wirtschaftlichen Interessen deshalb dringend in Havanna einfordern, dass Kubaner ihre Menschenrechte uneingeschränkt wahrnehmen könnten, betonte die Amnesty-Expertin.

Gabriel, der bis Freitag in Havanna weilt, wollte sich dort mit Vertretern der Zivilgesellschaft treffen. Auch sollte es ein Gespräch des SPD-Chefs mit dem Erzbischof von Havanna, Kardinal Jaime Ortega, geben. Die katholische Kirche hat großen Einfluss auf der Karibikinsel und spielt bei der historischen Annäherung an die USA eine wichtige Rolle.

Drohende Inhaftierungen / Anstieg der Kurzzeitinhaftierungen in den letzten Monaten

Amnesty Kuba  (11.12.2015, 00.00 Uhr)

Anlässlich des Tags der Menschenrechte führt Amnesty eine Eilaktion zur Sicherheit der Dissidenten auf Kuba und zu den ständig steigenden Inhaftierungen auf Kuba durch. Die Eilaktion ist unter:

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10 December 2015

Cuba: Human Rights Day crackdown on dissidents likely after month of mass arrests Yesterday, police in the capital Havana arbitrarily restricted the movement of members of the prominent Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) group of activists as they prepared for today’s demonstrations. This came after at least 1,477 politically motivated detentions in November 2015, the highest monthly total in many years, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN).

“For weeks on end, the Cuban authorities have used a spike in arrests and harassment to prevent human rights activists and dissidents from protesting peacefully. This is a systematic problem that silences Cuban activists in their own streets. For years, harassment on Human Rights Day has been the rule rather than the exception, and is absolutely unacceptable,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

The Ladies in White and other organizations have been convening activists to march today, in Havana and elsewhere, in support of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. The group and their supporters have held regular Sunday marches for more than 30 consecutive weeks to call for the release of Cuban political prisoners and human rights protection. These peaceful demonstrations have been met with a pattern of arbitrary arrests and other harassment by the authorities. The pro-democracy group Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU) has also reported mass detentions of its members across the country in recent months. In a bid to curtail the protests, frequently the arrested activists have been driven to remote areas where they are left to walk home, or they have been detained for anywhere from one to 30 hours. Cuban human rights activists say this year has been marked not only by a high number of arrests, but also increased violence from state authorities towards peaceful political dissidents and activists. “The Cuban authorities must refrain from dispersing, arresting or detaining peaceful protesters,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas. “Cubans’ right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be respected on Human Rights Day and throughout the year.” Background In the mid 1990’s Amnesty International began to document a shift away from high numbers of long-term political detentions in Cuba to increased use of short-term arbitrary arrests, harassment of activists, political dissidents, human rights activists and independent journalists. The number of politically motivated detentions has progressively increased in recent years, according to the CCDHRN. Arbitrary arrests and detentions typically peak during official visits or summits. In September 2015, the month of Pope Francis’ high-profile visit to Cuba, the CCDHRN registered 882 such arrests, compared with an average of 700 arbitrary detentions per month in 2014. Many of those detained are held between one and 30 hours. Some activists report excessive use of force by the police.

Cuban political activists and human rights activists are often accused, but not formally charged, under articles of the Cuban Penal Code as a way to curb legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. Provisions often invoked include insult or contempt of a public official (“desacato”), resistance to public officials carrying out their duties (“resistencia”), and “desórdenes públicos,” which criminalizes any large meeting or act in public spaces which aims to provoke panic or disturbance.

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