Some 34 relatives of political prisoners delivered a letter to the National Assembly this Friday to request an amnesty law to free them. The document, addressed to the body’s vice president, Ana María Mari Machado, comes from another text sent to the Foreign Ministry by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Cidh) and the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), where various legal methods were summarized to free the hundreds of prisoners of conscience and dissidents who remained in Cuban prisons.
“Having exhausted all legal means to demand justice for Cubans imprisoned for expressing their desire for democracy in a country where independent lawyers are prohibited, we turn to you, as a representative, to initiate the corresponding procedures in the National Assembly for drafting and debate to approve an Amnesty Law,” began the letter, which arrived at the institution from Wilber Aguilera Bravo, father of the political prisoner Walnier Luis Aguilar.
In summary, the relatives ask for “the recognition that there is no crime in the expression of the will for democratic change expressed by the citizens in the protests of July 2021” and those that follow.
“In addition to these behaviors that violate human rights, we will continue to protect people who should not have spent a day in prison”
“Beyond these behaviors that violate human rights, we will continue to defend those who should not have been imprisoned for a day,” said the document, claiming Mari Machado’s power to debate a bill in the Assembly.
The letter also recalled the constant harassment suffered by the relatives of political prisoners when they asked for justice for those imprisoned. “It deprives us of the right to association and peaceful assembly, as well as the right to freedom of expression through arbitrary arrests, interrogations, criminal investigation procedures, warning letters, systematic surveillance procedures, and violations of freedom of expression.”,” he alleged.
The petition was shared on social networks with a form for relatives of political prisoners who did not sign it first, as well as the rest of the population, to support the claim.
For its part, the text drafted by the OCDH and delivered to the Foreign Ministry through the human rights body (Cidh) of the Organization of American States (OAS) introduced the Government of the Island to other “legal” means to release the political prisoners: extra-penal licenses, pardons, conditional release, replacement of deprivation of liberty with alternative punishments, and amnesty law, the only means available to family members if other remedies before the court have been exhausted.
“The document was sent to Havana as part of the process of updating a precautionary measure in favor of Cuban political prisoner Walnier Luis Aguilar Rivera”
“The document was sent to Havana as part of the process of updating a precautionary measure in favor of the Cuban political prisoner Walnier Luis Aguilar Rivera, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the demonstration in July 2021 in La Güinera,” explained the OCDH, however. The release of all prisoners is demanded. In the case of Aguilar, diagnosed with an intellectual disability, “he is in the prison of Combinado del Este, together with dangerous prisoners and without the necessary medical care,” criticized the Observatory.
Similar documents, the text says, were given on previous occasions to “diplomats, embassies, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other institutions.” With these precedents, the chances that the regime will respond to the request are small, but the relatives of political prisoners continue to believe: “In the coming years, it will not be possible to say that Cuban citizens will not ask and fight with Amnesty for those unjustly convicted in every way,” they said in their letter.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Provincial Court of Camaguey held the trial of 14 prisoners for the demonstration in Nuevitas in August 2022. With requests for prison terms of up to 15 years, the association of one of the accused as a “terrorist,” and the “false” statements from a dozen police officers, the relatives estimate that the punishments will be severe.