Political prisoners in Cuba

Cuba 'moves political prisoners closer to their homes'

Page last updated at 7:31 GMT, Wednesday, 2 June 2010 8:31 UK

Cuba 'moves political prisoners closer to their homes'

Cuba has begun transferring several of the country's 200 political
prisoners to jails closer to their homes, according to relatives and

Human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said the relocation of dissidents
had begun, while the Archbishop of Havana's office said so far six had
been moved.

Officials agreed to relax the prison regime after talks with Church leaders.

There was no immediate official confirmation from the Cuban government.

There has been pressure on the Cuban leadership to improve conditions
for political prisoners since the death in February of hunger strike
protester Orlando Zapata.

He was the first Cuban activist to starve himself to death in protest in
nearly 40 years.

As part of the recent agreement, the government also said it would move
sick dissident prisoners to hospital and committed to stop harassing the
prisoners wives' group, the Ladies in White, who would be allowed to
continue their weekly protest march.

However, the Cuban authorities deny that the men are political
prisoners, calling them mercenaries paid by the US to undermine the system.

Amnesty International considers 65 of them to be "prisoners of conscience".

The BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says Mr Sanchez's human rights group,
the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, is
illegal but tolerated by the country's Communist authorities.

Mr Sanchez said the families of four men had been told by the
authorities they would be moved to jails closer to home.

Felix Navarro and Antonio Diaz, who were sentenced to 25 and 20 years
and jailed in the central province of Ciego de Avila, had been taken to
jails in Matanzas and Havana City, he told the AFP news agency.

Diosdado Gonzalez, serving a 20-year sentence, was sent from Pinar del
Rio in the west to his home province of Matanzas, Mr Sanchez added.

The archbishop's office also named Jose Luis Garcia, Ivan Adolfo
Hernandez and Arnaldo Ramos.


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