231 acts of repression documented in April alone
On 4th May 2023, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) reported at least 231 acts of repression in April 2023, most of which were against activists and political prisoners, including 53 detentions. Political prisoners suffered the majority of repressions. In addition, the organisation documented cases in which the police persecuted, harassed, and assaulted activists. The OCDH declared that Cuban civil society faces a critical situation due to the level of government repression. The group called on the Cuban Catholic Church to intervene and call for the release of political prisoners.
On 20th April 2023, OCDH informed the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the arrest of activist Aniette González García. The activist was arrested after publishing photos on Facebook with the Cuban national flag displayed during an artistic performance. González García has been charged with insulting national symbols, which could bring up to five years in prison. The activist is part of an initiative to highlight the arbitrary imprisonment of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara who used the flag in another artistic performance and was subsequently arrested.
El OCDH denunció ante Oficina del Alto Comisionado de DDHH de la ONU y la CIDH, detención arbitraria de la comunicadora cubana Aniette González García, por publicar fotos con la bandera nacional, en performance artístico.— Observatorio Cubano de Derechos Humanos (@observacuba) April 20, 2023
👉https://t.co/S3Le0nuqfb#SOSCuba #NoALaRepresion #Cuba pic.twitter.com/2Y1urFyCam
The InterAmerican Press Association reported in April 2023 that the repression against independent activists has resulted in more than 1,000 political prisoners currently in jail in Cuba. According to the report, the Communist Party and the Ministry of the Interior are the main perpetrators of attacks against independent journalists and media. Though some journalists have fled the country, censorship continues, including the state use of the Penal Code, the Associations Law, Law 88, the Constitution and specific decrees.
On 20th April 2023, civil society organisations demanded the release of influencer Sulmira Martínez Pérez, who was detained on 11th January 2023 for criticising the regime on social media and defending the right to peaceful assembly. The authorities arrested Martínez and charged her with propaganda against the constitutional order; the influencer faces from four to ten years in prison. According to civil society, the regime has used this case to intimidate those who denounce or criticise the authorities on social media and thus silence dissenting voices in the worsening socio-economic and political crisis.