7th August, 2012
Prominent Catholic dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer was free on Monday after he was detained for some 36 hours in Cuba's eastern city of Holguin.
Speaking from his home in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, Mr Ferrer told reporters that "nobody" gave him a reason for his arrest. "The authorities told me that they were following orders without asking why," Spanish news agency EFE quoted him as saying.
"Since February they have made it clear to me that they don't want me in the capital and that they were going to prevent me from doing that," the dissident and former prisoner, said.
He linked his detention to his human rights activism, including documenting religious rights abuses in the Communist-run island nation.
“The police, which should be protecting the people, take orders from the Communist Party and dedicate themselves to hunt, watch, harass, impede, and detain peaceful dissidents who defend human rights, as well as Ladies in White. That is the sad reality which we try to and will change,” he said in published remarks.
Mr Ferrer, 41, is the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba and known as a devout Catholic. In recent months, he has been actively documenting and denouncing cases of men and women who have been forcibly prevented by state security officials from participating in religious activities.
He is a member of the group of 75 political prisoners who were detained during what became known as the 2003 Black Spring Crackdown. Mr Ferrer was among a small group of dissidents who agreed to be released from prison on condition that he is allowed to stay in Cuba.
Andrew Johnston, the advocacy director of Britain-based rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide said his organisation has welcomed Cuba's decision to release a man who he said "worked tirelessly to expose religious freedom violations" in the country.
However, "We call on the Cuban government to end the arbitrary arrest and detention of activists like Ferrer, and respect the fundamental rights of its citizens,” Mr Johnston added in a statement to BosNewsLife.
The country is currently run by Raul Castro, the world's longest-serving defense minister, who took over as president in February 2008, succeeding his ailing brother Fidel, who had been in power for five decades.
Though he has introduced some reforms, Christian groups have expressed concerns over reported attempts by authorities to control church groups.