Geneva, January 27, 2014.
We, the undersigned human rights organizations,
Having listened to the Secretary General’s January 27th remarks upon arrival in Havana where he stated that he looked “forward to hearing views on key issues from peace and security to sustainable development and human rights” and that he looked forward to his “meetings with Cuban officials, including His Excellency President Raul Castro and many ministers” but made no mention of meeting with Cuba’s democratic opposition or human rights defenders,
Recognizing that the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights says the United Nations must address human rights abuses “whenever and wherever they appear.”
Disappointed that coinciding with the Secretary General’s visit and CELAC Summit scores of opposition activists and human rights defenders have been, and continue to be, threatened, harassed, their homes laid siege, and detained since the 23rd of January to prevent independent civil society organizing meetings and events around the CELAC Summit.
Observing that despite the Cuban government’s claim that Cubans are free to travel, Cubans inside of Cuba are denied the right to travel freely in their own country. For example, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” is unable to travel to the Geneva Summit for Human Rights because his home is surrounded by state security agents blocking him from leaving his house.
Concerned about the human rights situation in Cuba in general: the increasing number of human rights defenders’ arbitrary arrests, suspicious deaths, beatings on the streets of Cuban citizens, and other repressive measures taken by the Cuban government,
Recalling that according to news reports a team of United Nations experts in September of 2013 concluded that a shipment of Cuban arms, that included MIGs and rockets, interdicted by the Panamanian authorities in July en route to North Korea, were in violation of UN sanctions on North Korea.
Also recalling the election of Cuba to both the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Executive Board of the United Nations Democracy Fund whose stated aim is building democratic societies is troubling. Cuba is a dictatorship hostile to democracy in its own country that has also undermined and continues to undermine democratic institutions in other countries.
Further disappointed by the United Nations inaction on investigating the circumstances surrounding deaths of democratic opposition leaders Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero on July 22, 2012 despite direct requests made by his daughter and over 125 world leaders and nongovernmental organizations, among them Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu.
Extremely concerned that the Secretary General’s visit to Cuba may be seen as legitimizing a government that systematically violates human rights, collaborates with outlaw regimes and is itself a state sponsor of terrorism.
We call on the Secretary General to:
Address both the human rights situation in Cuba and the ongoing crackdown coinciding with his visit to Cuba
Address the violations of international sanctions on North Korea by the Cuban government through the smuggling of weapons.
Address where the United Nations investigation in to the deaths of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero stands.
Meet with Cuba’s democratic opposition and human rights defenders to obtain a more complete vision of the challenges facing Cuba.
1. Ana Maria Stame Cervone, President, Centrist Democratic Women International (Italy)
2. Martin Elgue, parliamentarian, Partido Nacional, Montevideo (Uruguay)
3. Micaela Hierro Dori, President, Centro de Investigación y Capacitación de Emprendedores Sociales (CICES Asociación Civil) (Argentina)
4. Nazly Escalona, Coordinator, Red Latinoamericana de Jóvenes por la Democracia en Cuba
5. Regis Iglesias, spokesman, Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (Cuba)
6. Edil Christian Núñez (PartidoNacional) Montevideo (Uruguay)
7. Jose Luis Guerrero Martínez, Ecuatorian dissident (Ecuador)
8. Hillel C. Neuer, executive director, UN Watch (Switzerland)
9. Janisset Rivero, Cuban Democratic Directorate (Cuba)
10. Tomasz Pisula, Chairman, Freedom and Democracy Foundation (Poland)
11. Dmitry Makarov, Chair of the Board, International Youth Human Rights Movement, (Russia)
12. Gabriel Salvia, Director, Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina (Argentina)
13. Laida Carro, Coalition of Cuban-American Women (Cuba)