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Cuban Catholic activist victim of Govt clampdown

In a step which has drawn widespread condemnation, Cuban officials have requested the death penalty for Catholic human rights activist Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.

Mr Garcia, one of the leaders of the Christian Liberation Movement on the island, is accused of "acts against the independence and territorial entirety of the state."

And according to experts, the move comes as the Castro regime has taken more suppressive measures in the past few weeks during which there have been at least 80 arrests.

Fellow human rights activist Dr Oscar Elias Biscet has also become a victim of the crackdown and faces 25 years in prison after being recently rearrested and charged with "disorderly conduct".

Dr Biscet has recently been involved in promoting a grassroots project called the Friends of Human Rights, a forum through which small groups could meet in homes to learn about human rights and ways to defend and demand them peacefully.

He was arrested when Cuban security forces attempted to prevent him and other activists from entering one of the homes where a Friends of Human Rights meeting was to take place.

A number of other active Christians have already been sentenced to between 20-27 years in prison.
Dr Biscet, a devout Christian, founded the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, which promotes the defence of rights through non-violent means. During his spells in prison, his Bible has been confiscated a number of times as a punishment and he has consistently been denied the right to pastoral visits.

The Universe

Cuba: mothers of political prisoners demand justice (Aid to the Church in Need)
Christian Liberation Movement
Cuba: Dissidents were eroding socialist system (Miami Herald)

24 Apr 2003