Family of Prominent Cuban Human Rights Defender Subjected to Threats and Harassment

Cuban Human Rights Defender, Ailer Gonzalez Mena, of Estado de SATS, has been threatened by the Cuban authorities over the weekend. The security police visited her father and told him they had evidence she was meeting with the ”Cuban-American mafia members of congress”. They also asked him if he and his wife ”were currently able to receive bad news”, the father having recently undergone heart surgery.

”The supposedly bad news would be that something is going to happen to me,” said Ailer Gonzalez Mena in an interview with Civil Rights Defenders.

The security police also demanded to know whether Gonzalez Mena’s daughter, who is currently residing with the parents, held the same political beliefs as she did.

“It is a common strategy of the Cuban authorities to mobilise the family against human rights defenders such as us,” said Ailer Gonzalez Mena.

The threat is a result of Ailer Gonzalez and Antonio G. Rodiles, also a member of Estado de Sats, who in recent weeks conducted meetings with several members of the US Congress who support their campaign #TodosMarchamos for transparency, democracy and the release of political prisoners in Cuba,

Repression has escalated in recent weeks as the #TodosMarchamos (WeAllMarch) campaign is gaining momentum on the Caribbean island and among Cubans living in exile. Organised by Estado de Sats, Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) and several other organisations of the Foro por los Derechos y Libertades (Forum for Rights and Freedoms) its core message is to call on Cubans to join the marches and demand amnesty for all political prisoners.

”The enthusiasm and strength of the campaign is incredible. And now the support of the expatriate community in Miami is getting stronger and stronger,” said Ailer Gonzalez Mena.

The police have repressed the Sunday marches like clockwork every week since mid April 2015, but the participants have not been deterred and return defiantly again and again. As a consequence of these marches the number of arbitrary detentions of democracy activists skyrocketed throughout 2015.

According to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, (CCDHRN), there were less than 200 arbitrary detentions in January, but this had increased almost eight fold to 1500 in November.

”Civil Rights Defenders urges the Cuban government to immediately refrain from harassing all human rights defenders and their families and respect the right of its citizens to exercise their fundamental rights. We commend the spirit, integrity and perseverance of Cuban civil society who despite the threats and harassment come out onto the streets time and time again to demand change especially the release of all political prisoners who fill the jails of Cuba,” said Erik Jennische, Latin America Programme Director, Civil Rights Defenders.