Dozens of opposition activists have been arrested Tuesday on Human Rights Day in Cuba, due to possible protests against the communist administration, rights group said.
In capital Havana, at least a dozen activists were arrested when they attempted to join a gathering organized by the opposition movement ‘’Ladies in White’’ AFP reporters said.
''Ladies in White'' is an opposition group which was founded in 2003 by female relatives and wives of jailed opponents in Cuba. The women protest detentions after attending Mass each Sunday and then walk the streets silently dressed in all white clothing, which symbolises peace.
There were many similar cases reported all over Cuba on Tuesday.
At least 11 people were arrested in Guantanamo, on the eastern tip of Cuba, and six more in the capital when they attempted to meet up, said Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba.
In Camaguey,central Cuba, another 23 activists were intercepted by authorities, he said.
Arrests has came as Attorney General Dario Delgado alleged that the country does not have political prisoners but only jailed criminals who "call themselves dissidents."
"It is sometimes said there are political prisoners here. There aren't," Delgado told the official Communist Party daily Granma.
"The majority of those who call themselves dissidents are common inmates who have been attracted by counter-revolutionary organizations, internal or external, and receive payments directly or indirectly," he said.
"But they aren't prisoners of conscience."
However, President Raul Castro’s government freed 53 people whom US considered political prisoners, as part of the historical rapprochement between the two former Cold War enemies.
According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which is illegal but tolerated by the government, another 60 political prisoners still remain in jails.
Moreover the Cuban Commission said that at least 1,477 people were detained due to political motivation in November 2015, the highest monthly total in many years.
Americas Director at Amnesty International, Erika Guevara-Rosas said,“For weeks on end, the Cuban authorities have used a spike in arrests and harassment to prevent human rights activists and dissidents from protesting peacefully. This is a systematic problem that silences Cuban activists in their own streets. For years, harassment on Human Rights Day has been the rule rather than the exception, and is absolutely unacceptable”.
According to international human rights groups,Cuban government routinely jails opposition activists to deter them from organizing protests and attending private meetings in Cuba, where all opposition to Communist Party rule is forbidden.