Human Rights Watch after refusal to march on 15N: Protesting is a right that cannot be subject to the whims of a government

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch showed its disagreement with the decision of the Cuban government not to allow the 15N march, called by the Archipelago citizen platform, to take place.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch, denounced through the social network Twitter, the position of the Cuban State and pointed out that the right to demonstrate should not be subject to the whims of a government.

On September 21, the Archipelago group presented to the Provincial Government of Havana a request for authorization to carry out a peaceful march in November. The objective of the demonstration is to condemn violence, demand the freedom of political prisoners, respect for human rights and democratic solutions to the conflicts that the country is experiencing.

The march was originally scheduled for November 20, but the government established a nationwide military exercise on similar dates. Given the plan of the Cuban State to militarize the country to thwart the initiative, the demonstration was rescheduled for 15N.

The authorization request appealed to article 56 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, which recognizes citizens the right to meet, demonstrate and associate for lawful and peaceful purposes. It also mentioned article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on the right to exercise freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

However, this Tuesday the Cuban government denied the permit and described as “unconstitutional” and “destabilizing”, the objectives of the demonstration.

The government indicated in its official response to the request that “respect for public order and compliance with the regulations established in the law was not taken into account in the call.” Covered in that argument, they indicated that “legitimacy is not recognized in the reasons that are used for the march.”

In addition, they pointed out in the text that there is a public screening of some of the promoters “with subversive organizations or agencies financed by the US government,” and that have “the manifest intention of promoting a change in the political system in Cuba.”

Despite the government’s criteria, the organizers of the march did emphasize the peaceful and civic nature of the demonstration. They indicated that it would be done “with absolute adherence to public order and the health measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” and demanded that the authorities comply with guarantees for the participants.

Permission was not only requested for the demonstration in Havana, but also in several Cuban cities, including Holguín, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Pinar del Río, Guantánamo, Las Tunas and Artemisa. The governments of these and other territories were notified of the Cubans’ willingness to march peacefully. All cases have been rejected.

At the end of September, Human Rights Watch also showed disagreement with the treatment received by political prisoners in Cuba and concern for the health of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, imprisoned since he tried to join the 11J protests in Havana.

“I am concerned about the health of the Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who is detained and on hunger strike. The regime has prevented him from expressing his criticism through art, social media or in protests. Luis Manuel feels that this is his only option. The regime must respect their human rights ”, Vivanco stated on Twitter.

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