Cuban dissidents not allowed to go to France

14th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

HAVANA, Dec 13 (AFP) - The wives of five Cuban political prisoners who founded the "The Ladies in White" protest movement accused the government Tuesday of making them "hostages" after they were blocked from travelling to France to receive a human rights award.

HAVANA, Dec 13 (AFP) - The wives of five Cuban political prisoners who founded the "The Ladies in White" protest movement accused the government Tuesday of making them "hostages" after they were blocked from travelling to France to receive a human rights award.

According to the women, the government prevented them from attending a ceremony to receive the Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom on Thought, the European Parliament's foremost human rights honour.

"They prevented us from taking part in that," Miriam Leiva, one of the members of the group, told AFP. "It's just yet another proof that we Cubans are hostages of the government."

On October 26, the EU parliament announced that the five were winners of the 2005 Sakharov Prize, named after the former Soviet Union dissident.

The five women had planned to travel to France late Sunday to take part in events accompanying the awards ceremony, which is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

They had hoped the government would relent and allow them to travel Monday night, but they were again blocked from leaving.

"Now we are not going to be able to make it in time," said Julia Nunez, whose husband, 58-year-old journalist Adolfo Fernandez, was sentenced to 15 years of prison. "In addition they have created bureaucratic obstacles for us."

"The Ladies in White", now a group of some 100 women, gained notoriety for their protests and activism in the wake of the detention of 75 dissidents by the Cuban government in March 2003, including their husbands and other relatives.

The other founding members of the group invited to receive the Sakharov award are Laura Pollan, Loida Valdes and Berta Soler.

They are one of three winners of this year's Sakharov Prize. The others are Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim and Reporters without Borders, an organization which supports journalists worldwide.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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