The human rights organization Amnesty International has called for the immediate liberation of prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet Concepción, a member of an anti-Communist Christian group arrested in Cuba shortly after the death of dictator Fidel Castro.
“He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally,” Amnesty International declared in a statement published on Wednesday, detailing the circumstances surrounding his arrest for “attacking an official of the state.”
Cardet, the head of Cuba’s Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), was bludgeoned and arrested by plain-clothes state police officers on November 30 in front of his wife and two children. “It is not clear on what grounds Eduardo Cardet was initially detained,” Amnesty notes. At the time, reports in dissident-friendly media noted that Cardet had publicly objected to the Cuban government’s imposed mourning time for Fidel Castro, the island nation’s longtime communist dictator. Cardet had objected in international media to, among other things, the forced signing of a “condolences book” for Fidel Castro.
The government ultimately charged him with attempting to attack a state police officer, however. He currently faces three years in prison for the charge.
On the same day, Amnesty International published a call to action to save Cardet. Florida Senator Marco Rubio spoke before the Senate denouncing his arrest, noting that Cardet took over the group’s leadership after the death of Oswaldo Payá in 2012, who died in a car accident dissidents say the Cuban government orchestrated. Cardet, Rubio noted, was “savagely beaten by State Security agents in the presence of his wife and two children.” Rubio added that the event occurred after Cardet said on a Spanish news broadcast that Fidel Castro was “widely hated” among Cubans.
“Dr. Cardet’s persecution and the overall increase and oppression in Cuba over the past two years is a reminder that the policy of rewarding the Castro regime under the guise of engagement with cash and concessions has not worked and must be strategically reversed here in the coming months,” Rubio told the Senate.
Eduardo Cardet Pérez, Cardet Concepción’s father, has also written a letter to Pope Francis asking the pontiff to intervene on his son’s behalf. Cardet Pérez writes in his letter that the heart of the MCL “is based in the Social Doctrine of the Church and the liberating message of the Gospel.”
Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence to the Cuban government following Castro’s death and has compared the Communist regime’s universally condemned human rights record to that of the free nations of Europe.
The MCL also dispatched Rosa María Payá, Oswaldo Payá’s daughter, to plea for Cardet before the United Nations; she has since returned to Cuba.
In addition to the persecution of Cardet himself, his family has told international media outlets that the government has targeted them, as well. Hi wife Yaimaris Vecino told the American outlet Martí that she has been receiving threatening and disparaging phone calls she believes are commissioned by the government.
“I receive messages telling me Eduardo has a lover, that she goes to visit him,” she said, adding that there is no evidence of such claims that the Cuban government has a history of using misinformation to divide the dissident movement.