Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams
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On April 16, a who's who of former political dissidents and current lawmakers joined about 100 protesters in front of the Cuban Embassy in Prague 6.
The protesters voiced their opposition to Cuba's arrests of almost 80 alleged dissidents. Those arrested included writers, independent journalists and opposition-party leaders. Most have received prison sentences ranging between 18 and 25 years.
"We express sympathy with the Cuban people," said local actor Tomas Hanak.
The demonstrators outside the Cuban Embassy carried photos of many of the arrested and also denounced the recent execution of three Cuban men who attempted to hijack a ferry and sail it to the United States. The men were put in front of a firing squad less than 24 hours after they were caught.
The protest participants included Deputy Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra, former Civic Democratic Deputy Marek Benda, Freedom Union Deputy Ivan Pilip and Jan Bubenik, an activist in the 1989 revolution. Pilip and Bubenik were arrested in Cuba in 2001 for allegedly meeting with anti-revolutionary groups and spent almost a month in prison before their release was negotiated.
"The law being used is the same one we were prosecuted for," Pilip told the crowd. "Any kind of action [in Cuba] can be seen as an enemy action."
President Vaclav Klaus issued a separate statement in which he said he was worried about Cuba's politically motivated court proceedings.
"The Czech Republic should use all opportunities possible to express its disagreement with the human rights abuses in Cuba and together with the U.S. Congress and the European Union should support the enforcement of adequate measures to stop the persecution of those who are in accordance with the Cuban constitution," the statement read.
Even in Paris, Reporters Sans Frontiers held a rally at the Cuban Embassy. Where protestors were beated by Embassy staff.
A dozen Reporters Without Borders protesters were attacked by Cuban embassy staff today after the ambassador refused to accept a letter demanding the release of 26 journalists recently imprisoned for up to 27 years. Cuba has now overtaken Eritrea, Burma and China as the world's biggest prison for journalists.
After the refusal, the protesters chained shut the entrances to the embassy and handcuffed themselves to the railings outside. Embassy staff then beat up the organisation's secretary-general, Robert Ménard, and the head of its Latin America desk, Régis Bourgeat.
The demonstrators wore masks and t-shirts bearing pictures of the journalists and carried two banners, one reading "Cuba = prison" and the other showing a quote by one of the jailed journalists, Raúl Rivero, saying : "I don't plot, I write."
Among those who came to express support for the jailed journalists were Cuban writers Zoé Valdès and Eduardo Manet, Spanish playwright and filmmaker Fernando Arrabal, French film director Romain Goupil and French novelist Pascal Bruckner.
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