Report: More than 700 short-term detentions of dissidents in September

A Cuban human rights group Wednesday reported more than 700 short-term detentions of dissidents in September, the third highest monthly total in four years and one without a specific explanation, such as the crackdown during a papal visit last year.

The spike was accompanied by increases in beatings, mob “acts of repudiation” and other forms of harassments of dissidents, according to the report by the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCHRNR).

Short-term detentions for political motives had been declining this year, after complaints by Cuban, U.N. and other international human rights organizations that the numbers had hit record levels under ruler Raúl Castro.

They had tripled from 2,074 in 2010 to 6,602 in 2012, and then dropped to 2,376 in the first seven months of this year compared to 4,051 during the same period last year, according to the CCHRNR, headed by Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz.

Sanchez reported in August that instead of jailing dissidents for short periods — usually to harass or intimidate them or keep them from attending opposition gatherings — security agents were increasingly hauling them to remote spots and dumping them there.

But the September total of 708 short-term arrests was the third highest since the beginning of 2010. CCHRNR reported 1,158 in March 2012, during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit, and 796 in December 2011, during a crackdown tied to international human rights day on Dec.10.

The CCHRNR report also highlighted “a proportional increase” in the number of physical aggressions (196), “acts of repudiation” by government-organized mobs (165), acts of vandalism against homes (160) and other type of harassments by the security services.

Cuban dissidents have alleged for the past few months that security agents are using more physical violence during arrests in what they say is proof that their activism is gaining ground on the communist-ruled nation.

The rise in aggressions “is in line with the visible hardening of the government’s attitude toward international standards of human rights,” the CCHRNR reported, evident in Cuba’s rejection of 20 sections of a recent U.N. report on the country’s human rights abuses.

“At the same time when Cuba continues to refuse to ratify two major U.N. agreements on human rights, it is notorious that the government lacks almost any disposition … to improve the horrible situation with fundamental rights that prevails in Cuba,” it added.

London-based Amnesty International has five Cubans on its list of “prisoners of conscience, although the CCHRNR says the true number of people imprisoned for political activism stands at about 90.

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