Protest Letter signed by 73 Dutch writers, journalists and intellectuals 

Dr Fidel Castro Ruz
Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros
La Habana Cuba
Via Cuban Mission to the United Nations  Fax 001 212 779 16
Via Cuban Mission to the United Nations  Fax 001 212 779 16

                                April 22, 2003


A few weeks ago, when the eyes of the world were fixed on the war in Iraq,
the Cuban government completed a most violent, widespread and repressive
wave of arrests. Almost eighty people were detained, most of them
journalists, owners of independent libraries, peaceful dissidents and
pro-democracy members of opposition parties. 
In the past weeks, at least 33 dissidents have been sentenced to terms
ranging from 14 to 27 years after manifestly unfair trials conducted in
haste and secrecy. The detainees had no guarantee for their defense, the
tribunals were not impartial, and there was no presence of foreign press,
diplomats or general Cuban public. 

One of the first to be sentenced was the award-winning poet and independent
journalist Raúl Rivero, fifty-seven years of age. They demanded a sentence
of thirty years in prison. Over the past years, he was never allowed to
leave the island to receive any of the international prizes for journalism
that he was awarded. Now, he has been condemned to twenty years in jail. In
regard to his frail health, this practically means a life sentence. And we
are appalled to hear that against José Daniel Ferrer, regional coordinator
in Santiago de Cuba province for the Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, the
death penalty was called for.

Most of the arrested people were charged with the possession of
typewriters, censured books or 'illegal' gifts such as fax, computer,
access to internet or e-mail accounts. The crime these men and women
committed, in short, is free expression: they dared to express themselves,
and they did so with any resource at their disposal. Their crime is to show
the destruction of the social, economical and political life in Cuba. They
had the courage to propose peaceful changes in order to enlarge the
autonomy and the responsibility of the citizen. It is no coincidence that
many of those arrested were supporters of the Varela Project, a petition
for a referendum on fundamental freedoms, that has gained growing
recognition inside and outside of Cuba. The crime these people committed is
the practice of their human rights. 

We, the undersigned of this letter, Dutch colleagues of the detained,
regard the culture of justice as the guarantee of the peace we want. Out of
love for freedom and tolerance we join the increasing number of protesting
voices around the world, condemning these arrests. We demand the immediate
and unconditional release of these peaceful dissidents, journalists and
librarians. We demand that the Cuban government cease to repress the
personal creativity and group initiatives of their citizens. We expect the
Cuban government to accept the diversity of ideas and a national dialogue,
and to respect the right to freedom of expression without further
constraint or forms of intimidation. We declare our solidarity with all
Cubans involved, and we say to the people now suffering in prison, to their
wives, children and families, that justice will prevail.

Marijke Jansen, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst
Marga Bosch, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst
Herman Divendal, AIDA International
Harry Lockefeer, professor of journalism
Lo Breemer, City of Amsterdam
Adriaan van Dis, writer
Wim Bartels, writer
Tamarah Benima, writer
Aad Nuis, schrijver, fm state secretary of culture
Max Arian, journalist
Jan Joost Teunissen, Forum on Debt and Development
Carry van Lakerveld, historian
Femke Wolting, Submarine
Frank Ligtvoet, writer
Shervin Nekuee, writer, Rotterdamse Kunst Stichting
Jo van der Spek, journalist
Pieter Hilhorst, journalist
Anja van Leeuwen, SLAA
Robbert Bodegraven, editor Contrast
Dragan Klaic, professor of theatre history
Yoeri Albrecht, journalist
Henk van Renssen, journalist
Pieter Pekelharing, philosopher
Ivan Wolffers, writer
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, journalist
Stephan Sanders, writer
Ayatollah Musa, poet
Nina Folkersma, curator
Antonije Zalica, writer
Kinfu Assefa, journalist
Sylvia Dornseiffer, Fonds voor de Letteren
Menno Hartman, Fonds voor de Letteren
Momir Stosic, artist
Ritsaert ten Cate, artist
Ariejan Korteweg, editor De Volkskrant
Nathalie Bruys
Richard van der Laken, designer
Jana Beranová, poet
Thomas van Aalten, writer
Barber van de Pol, writer and translator
Marga Verheije, De Balie
Andrée van Es, fm parliament member
Bart Top, journalist
Tirso Francés
Mo Veld
Meindert Fennema, political scientist
Jan de Kievid, editor La Chispa
Joni Zwart, publisher
Ronald Ockhuysen, journalist
Maya Haanskorf, editor La Chispa
Donald Wieringa, director Phenix Foundation
Bo Koek, musician
Philibert Schogt, writer
Renate Dorrestein, writer
Tatjana Daan, Poetry International
René Puthaar, poet
Karel Glastra van Loon, writer
Maya Rasker, writer
Tijs Goldschmidt, writer
Manon Uphoff, writer
Bert Keizer, writer
Ronald Bos, Fonds voor de Letteren
A.Pais, fm State Secretary of Education
Arthur Japin, writer
Rudi Wester, Nederlands Literair Produktie- en Vertalingenfonds
Hafid Bouazza, writer
Tiziano Perez, Nederlands Literair Produktie- en Vertalingenfonds
Chris Keulemans, writer
Henriette Lakmaker, journalist
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, journalist
Josip Svoboda, schrijver
Edita Hasovic, poet
Josje Teunissen, journalist