Human Rights Watch condemned the unjust conviction of two Cuban political dissidents charged with "contempt for authority." The two prisoners, Angel Moya Acosta and Julia Cecilia Delgado, each received one-year sentences after being arrested during a massive crackdown
In the past two weeks, some 200 people have reportedly been arbitrarily detained across Cuba, most for short periods. All but four of these people have been released, the majority without charges being brought against them. Besides Moya and Delgado, two additional dissidents, Leonardo Bruzón and Orlando Fundora, remain in detention.
"By arresting some two hundred people, Cuba has chosen a perverse way to celebrate International Human Rights Day," said Joanne Mariner, Deputy Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch. International Human Rights Day is marked every year on December 10.
The 200 people who were detained are from various provinces. A large number were picked up by police on December 4 at public religious celebrations in honor of Santa Barbara. Others were detained on December 8 and 9. All of these detentions are thought to have been a preventative measure to discourage public gatherings for International Human Rights Day. A large number of people were also detained on December 10 in both private residences and in the streets where small gatherings commemorating International Human Rights Day were being held.
According to Elizardo Sánchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, the Cuban government has never in recent years detained such a large number of dissidents in such a short period of time.
The trial of Moya was originally scheduled for today. With no warning to Moya and his family and under a shadow of secrecy, the one-hour trial took place on Tuesday. Delgado's trial, which was also secretive and closed to observers, lasted three hours. The charges and convictions stem from complaints by Moya and Delgado when they were detained on December 4 at public religious observances and not allowed to call their families.
Hundreds of other peaceful opponents of the government remain behind bars in Cuba, convicted under laws restricting freedom of expression. Convictions of "contempt for authority" carry a three-month to one-year sentence.