14ymedio, Madrid, 21 March 2022 — Cuban judges confirm feeling threatened for their work on the cases against the July 11 (11J) protesters and assure that they are willing to “trade the robe and dais, if necessary, for a rifle and trench.” The Union of Cuban Jurists (UNJC) held an assembly on Sunday in Havana during which they supported the declaration of its capital branch in which they state that they are victims of “slander and smear campaigns, after presiding over the judicial proceedings associated with the events last July.”
The president of the organization’s Provincial Board of Directors in Havana, Osmín Álvarez Bencomo, maintained that some are discrediting the work of attorneys and prosecutors who, “closely adhered to due process” by taking on these “extremely serious” cases associated with the “collective and violent uprising of a group of people against authorities and the public order with the goal of toppling it.”
According to the Havana jurists’ declaration, as soon as the sentences were made public, some have attempted to discredit the behavior of the judges and prosecutors, most of whom are young. “We categorically reject and will confront any attempt at media manipulation, and we warn that, all those who attempt to subvert justice — administered in the name of the Cuban people — through threats, discrediting or simply making information available, will bear the full weight of the law,” says the text.
Last Friday, the president of the People’s Supreme Court of Cuba, Rubén Remigio Ferro, warned that some people were distributing photos and the full names of the judges and prosecutors who presided over the cases and shared screenshots of these remarks from a tweet. “What moral sampling do they have, who from anonymity or from afar, dare to threaten Cuban judges? What do they intend? Who acts like this, are they even decent and good people? They are mistaken!” he writes.
Some activists who have shared the photos of officials claim they do not hide under any anonymity. “Here, we don’t hide to demand justice. We publicly accuse those judges and prosecutors of the crime of prevarication because the sentences came ’from above’ and the trials were a farce. We seek penalties,” responded activist Salomé García Bacallao.
The declaration published yesterday echoes these facts and offers support to their colleagues. “To our prosecutors and judges, we say, faced with these threats, Havana’s National Union of Jurists will accompany you permanently during this historic confrontation, which from the Law you are the first line of defense of the homeland. Long live our invincible and eternal Senior Jurist, Commander-in-Chief, Fidel Castro Ruz!” says the text.
Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, First Secretary of the Party in Havana, confirmed that a campaign has been unleashed against these workers, though the target is not them, but rather, “to destroy the Revolution’s judicial system.”
“There will not be hatred, there will only be justice. We support and endorse the declaration of the Cuban jurists. Revolutionary justice is the guarantor of the Revolution,” claimed the official.
Also present was Ludmila Collazo Rodríguez, Vice President of the People’s Provincial Tribunal of Havana, who, in addition, bemoaned the apparent campaign against the judges and reiterated the close adherence to the law maintained by the jurists, such as, “the principle of popular participation that governs the administration of justice under the principles of impartiality, transparency and an eminently humanistic character.”
She also reiterated that defense attorneys praised the compliance with due process and that the sentences were not yet firm and could be appealed. “Being a prosecutor is a pride and a very difficult task, because responsibility, justice and human sensibility must be treated equally,” declared one prosecutor to the state news outlet Cubadebate, to which she added: “Their questioning of us is not fair. We do our job adhering to justice on behalf of the people to which we belong.”
Last week, the Provincial Tribunal of Havana published six sentences handed down to the July 11th protesters at the corner of Toyo and La Güinera. In these, 128 people were sentenced to a total of 1,916 years in prison, after being convicted of sedition, one of the most serious crimes within the Cuban Criminal Code. Furthermore, those Havana-based judges proved themselves particularly harsh, especially in two of the six proceedings, which included many cases where the penalties exceeded the prosecutors request, which is not very common.
In response to the tribunal’s “cruelty”, dozens of people, family members of the 11J prisoners, announced on Monday the creation of the Association of Mothers and Family Members for Amnesty (AMFA) protected by the right to free association recognized in the Constitution of 2019. “There is nothing more legal and legitimate than the shared defense of those whom we conceived, loved and raised,” says the statement.
The association announced that its objectives are the release of all 11J prisoners, which they consider political, with special emphasis on minors. In addition, they aim to promote amnesty for their family members, promote peaceful activities which will sensitize the population to the situation and seek support among international organizations in solidarity with their cause. They also announced their intent to participate in workshops or activities on legal and constitutional issues and promote assistance among affected families.
“We were not formed as a political organization, but rather a civic association respectful of the law. Despite the harshness and cruelty against our children and family members, we hold out hope that the government will reconsider and revert to respect of a Constitution, conceived and approved under its authority,” they state.
The announcement was made a few days after news broke that J11 protester, Rowland Jesús Castillo Castro’s mother, Yudinela Castro Pérez, was admitted to a Havana hospital following a suicide attempt. Castro, who is out of danger, has become, among the mothers, one of the most active in the fight for her son’s cause, to which authorities have responded by arresting and repressing her.
The arrests linked to protesting the arrests and sentences of the July 11 protesters apply to any citizen. Berta Soler and Ángel Moya were arrested on Sunday, and it is already the ninth consecutive Sunday since they announced in January that they’d resume their outings (suspended during the pandemic) to demand the release of political prisoners, now centered on those detained for 11J.
Moya himself detailed the arrest that occurred at 10:50 am and was released at 11:35 pm with two fines of 10 and 30 pesos, one for not carrying his documents and another for damages, for writing “patria y vida” on the cell wall.
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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