Cuba Protests: 5,000 Arrested, Police Target Religious Leaders

Independent media confirmed the arrests of at least 5,000 people since protests against communism erupted in Cuba on Sunday, a total including those known to be under investigation but not the disappeared.

The human rights group Cuban Prisoners Defenders submitted a list of 162 people to the United Nations on Wednesday suspected of being the victims of forced disappearances, meaning their families have reported them missing, but police have not confirmed their arrest. Cuban police regularly detain individuals perceived to be opposed to the Communist Party for participating in peaceful protests, practicing journalism, or being involved with religious groups not controlled by the Party. The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization, revealed in a report published this month that Cuba has enacted over 30,000 arbitrary arrests against perceived dissidents in the last five years.

Protests erupted in Cuba on Sunday calling for an end to the communist regime. The protests attracted thousands of people in nearly every major city in the country – spanning the entire island – and prompted Cuban police to respond by opening fire on protesters, beating them publicly, using attack dogs to maul them, and otherwise violently repressing them. President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who represents the public face of the Castro family regime, also called on civilians to violently attack protesters on the streets in an “order of combat” issued late Sunday. . .

In addition to targeting journalists and members of known civil society groups, Cuban regime agents have assaulted and detained religious leaders. The most prominent case so far of such an assault occurred in Camagüey where Father Castor José Álvarez Devesa, a Catholic priest who had prominently criticized the regime, received a public beating before going missing for nearly 24 hours. Álvarez resurfaced late Monday after an international campaign demanding to know his whereabouts. (Read more from “Cuba Protests: 5,000 Arrested, Police Target Religious Leaders” HERE)

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