Frankfurt am Main/Artemisa, January 8, 2021 – Not a happy new year: In the new year, The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) looks to Cuba with concern. At least 138 political prisoners are currently imprisoned on the Caribbean island for peacefully campaigning for human rights and democratic change in their home country.
Martha Sánchez González was also serving a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence until December 29, 2020. The 59-year-old is an activist of the “Ladies in White”. On December 29 2020, according to information of the ISHR, the mother of four was released on parole – on condition of “good social behaviour”. She is expected to stop publicly criticising the pervasive corruption and rule of the Cuban Communist Party. A decision is to be made on January 19, 2021 on the further course of her sentence, which runs until May 2022.
“The hygienic conditions and medical care in Cuban prisons are catastrophic. The dictatorial regime obviously sets out to ensure that prisoners contract the corona virus. We call on the Cuban government to release all political prisoners – not only on parole, but without conditions. Political prisoners are not criminals, but have been peacefully working for a better future for their country,” explains Martin Lessenthin, spokesman of the bard of the ISHR.
Catastrophic conditions in the women’s prison
Martha Sánchez González served her sentence in the women’s prison of El Guatao together with serious criminals. She reports about the miserable conditions in the prison: it is completely overcrowded with 800 to 900 inmates, the conditions are unhygienic, the food is not nutritious and there is no medical care. Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, she has been denied family visits. She also speaks of corruption and abuse by the guards. In mid-April 2020, Sánchez González demonstrated against the catastrophic conditions in the prison and the associated danger of Covid-19 infection with a hunger strike. According to her, none of the prisoners were allowed to take a Coronatest. Even after her release to house arrest, Martha Sánchez González insists that she will continue to work for a free Cuba.
Beaten and abused during arrest
Martha Sánchez González was arrested by police on March 11, 2018 as she was on her way to the parish of San Marcos Evangelista in Artemisa with other “Ladies in White”. As she was arrested, she shouted “down with the electoral farce”, “down with the Castros” and “freedom for the political prisoners”. She was beaten and abused by the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) in Artemisa. At the trial she was represented by a public defender and was not allowed to present any evidence or witnesses in her defence. Sánchez González was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on August 29, 2018 for “disobedience”, “resistance”, “inciting a crime” and “disturbing public order”.