opening of a trial for sedition against 33 participants

To the cries of ” Freedom ! » and ” We are hungry ! », thousands of Cubans had demonstrated on July 11, 2021. These gatherings, unprecedented since the 1959 revolution, had left one dead and dozens injured, and 1,377 people had been arrested, according to the NGO Cubalex. The Cuban government claims that these demonstrations were orchestrated from the United States.

At least 33 protesters will be tried this week for “sedition” before a court in Havana announced the group Justicia 11J, Monday, January 31. By February 7 will be organized “The Trial of Toyo Protesters. Thirty-three people will be tried for the offense of sedition, including six minors., tweeted the group, which monitors all cases related to the July mobilizations.

Toyo is the name of a bakery in the Diez de Octubre district, in front of which clashes took place on July 11 between supporters and opponents of the government. Vehicles had been damaged and the road covered with stones and bottles.

According to the human rights NGO Cubalex, while the first hearing was being held on Monday, women were arrested near the court “with violence: mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers” protesters on trial. Several activists were also arrested and internet communications were cut “in the vicinity of the court”, located in the Diez de Octubre district, detailed the NGO on Twitter.

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Series of convictions

In recent days, Cuban justice acknowledged for the first time that more than 700 demonstrators were being prosecuted – including 55 aged between 15 and 18 – and that 172 others had already been convicted, assuring that “the right to defense has[vait] been guaranteed and the lawyers [avaie]provided evidence”. According to Cubalex, 158 of them have been charged with sedition. Some were sentenced to twenty or thirty years in prison. In Cuba, majority is acquired at the age of 18, but criminal responsibility and the obligation of military service apply from the age of 16.

Cuban television broadcast on Friday the testimonies of three relatives of the prosecuted demonstrators. “I, as a mother, ask forgiveness for her mistake, [mon fils] said it publicly and also told me to apologize to him, and I apologize to the country and all the media, this is something he did without knowing what he was getting involved in”, testified in particular, his voice broken by emotion, Eudanis Campos Ramirez, according to the images broadcast on the television news.

The Council for Democratic Transition in Cuba, an opposition platform, demanded on Monday that the European Parliament award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu, party of opposition), performance artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and opponent Félix Navarro were arrested between 11 and 12 July as they tried to join the protests. Give them this award “would be a strong message in these times of democratic uncertainty”, estimates the Council for the democratic transition.

On Friday, Brian Nichols, Assistant Secretary of State for the Americas, tweeted that the United States government “is concerned about the health of Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, detained since July 11 for his art and activism”.

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The World with AFP

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