Friday, 27 July 2012


Police in Cuba have freed a group of dissidents they had arrested on Tuesday at the funeral of the prominent activist Oswaldo Paya. Pressure group the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said most of those arrested had been freed, but the group did not give exact numbers. The dissidents were picked up for questioning by police after shouting slogans against the government. The dissidents were arrested (last Tuesday) as they were leaving the church where Oswaldo Paya's funeral service had been held.

Pswaldo Paya's funeral (Associated Press)
Mr Paya (aged 60) died in a car crash on Sunday. His son, Oswaldo, suspected that the car may have been forced off the road. Mr Paya alleges that two survivors of the crash said they had been forced off the road by a truck that rammed their car repeatedly.

Cuban officials say the driver, a Spanish national, lost control and hit a tree. Diplomats have told Reuters news agency there is no evidence to back Mr Paya's allegations and that they believe it was a genuine accident.

Oswaldo Farinas staged hunger strikes to draw attention to the plight of political prisoners in Cuba. In 2010 he received the Sakharov Prize, the European Union's human rights award for the second time having previously won in 2002. He was the founder of the Varela project, a campaign (begun in 1998) to gather signatures in support of a referendum on laws to guarantee civil rights. In May 2002, Cuba's National Assembly was presented with a petition of more than 10,000 signatures calling for an end to four decades of one-party rule. The Cuban government described Mr Paya as an agent of the US who was working to undermine the country's revolution.

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