U.S. Asks Cuba To Release Two “Prisoners of Conscience” 

On June 26, the U.S. asked Cuba to release two men whom Amnesty International has called “prisoners of conscience.”[1]

According to the U.S. State Department, Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción “is serving a three-year sentence for allegedly criticizing former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. In May, Cuban authorities told his family they would not be allowed to visit him in jail for six months as punishment for his family’s efforts to raise awareness of his case internationally.”

The other man, Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, last month was “sentenced to a year in prison for allegedly disrespecting government authority. Cuban government officials have harassed Dr. Ruiz Urquiola for years for speaking out on environmental issues. We are deeply troubled by reports that he is currently on a hunger strike and in a critical medical condition.”

These two men “are just two examples of how the Cuban government continues to silence the peaceful opposition of its own citizens.” Therefore, the U.S. calls “on the Government of Cuba to release all political prisoners immediately and to stop its arbitrary detention of Cuban activists and independent thinkers who criticize their government through peaceful means. We also call on the Cuban government to cease reprisals against the family members of these activists.”

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[1] U.S. State Dep’t, Press Statement: Release of Political Prisoners (June 26, 2018); Reuters, United States Urges Cuba to Release Two ‘Prisoners of Conscience,’ N.Y. Times (June 26, 2018); Amnesty Int’l, Cuba: Environmental Activist Imprisoned: Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola (June 12, 2018); Amnesty Int’l, Cuba: Demand Release of Human Rights Defender: Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción (Jan. 31, 2017); Amnesty Int’l, Cuba:Further Information: Defender sentenced after criticizing Castro: Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción (Mar. 27, 2017); Amnesty Int’l, Cuba: Further Information: Human Rights Defender’s Sentence Upheld: Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción (May 25, 2017); Amnesty Int’l, Cuba: Further Information: Prisoner of Conscience Attacked in Prison: Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción (Jan. 22, 2018); Amnesty Int’l, Cuba: Family of Prisoner of Conscience Denied Visits (June 7, 2018).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

2 thoughts on “U.S. Asks Cuba To Release Two “Prisoners of Conscience” ”

  1. Washington Post Demands Release of Two Cuban “Prisoners of Conscience”

    A June 27 editorial in the Washington Post condemns Cuba’s imprisonment of Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, an environmentalist, and of Eduardo Cardet, the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement founded by the dissident Oswaldo Payá.

    On May 3, Cuban forest rangers visited Ruiz’ farm and “questioned him about building a fence and cutting down trees with a chain saw. He said he had permits and asked them to come to the house to see them. On the way, he asked the rangers to show identification. One refused, and he called them ‘rural police,’ a term the rangers interpreted as “’ural guards,’ recalling a repressive force under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s. He was arrested and convicted of ‘disrespect’ of the rangers and on May 8 given the maximum sentence of one year in prison. “

    According to the Post, the “Cuban penal code provides punishment for anyone who ‘threatens, slanders, defames, insults, injures or in any other manner abuses or offends, by word or in writing, the dignity or decorum of an authority, a public functionary or their agents or assistants.’ In other words, the state demands respect — but does not respect the right to speak out.”

    “A SUREFIRE way to tell the difference between an authoritarian state and an open democracy is the matter of respect. In a free society guaranteed by law, people enjoy a rare and precious right to say what they want, even if critical of their leaders. By contrast, in an authoritarian state, disrespect of the powers is illegal.”

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    Editorial, Cuba’s authoritarian state puts an environmentalist’s life in danger, Wash. Post (June 27, 2018) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cubas-authoritarian-state-puts-an-environmentalists-life-in-danger/2018/06/27/963a53fa-7a27-11e8-93cc-6d3beccdd7a3_story.html?utm_term=.f88150758f5f

  2. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola Has Been Paroled

    On July 3 Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, who had been on a hunger strike in a Cuban jail, announced that he now is free on parole. He added, “Without the support, the pressure made, without the international help, my liberation would not have been possible.”

    Reuters, Cuba Environmentalit ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ Says Free on Parole, N.Y. Times (July 3, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/07/03/world/americas/03reuters-cuba-rights.html.

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