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José Daniel Ferrer García

CUBA/Detained July 11, 2021

José Daniel Ferrer García is a long-time Cuban human rights activist and the General Coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), one of Cuba’s most well-known and active human rights and pro-democratic civil society organizations. UNPACU emerged in 2011 in response to government repression and advocates through peaceful means for civil liberties in Cuba. It has repeatedly been targeted by the government since its establishment. Ferrer has been a leading voice speaking out against government repression and violation of liberties in Cuba. Due to his activism, he and his family are frequently arrested, threatened, and harassed by the authorities.

On July 11, 2021, Ferrer was arrested while attempting to join a protest in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, alongside his son. This protest was part of coordinated anti-government protests that occurred across the country, where activists chanted “freedom” and demanded an end to the over 60-year-old Communist dictatorship on the island. He was detained in a “preventative prison” on charges of public disorder, and then on charges that he violated his house arrest conditions from a trial held in February 2020. In a trial where he was unable to get any legal representation, the court ordered him to serve the rest of his 4 ½ year sentence from that 2020 judgement in jail instead of house arrest. It is assumed he is being detained in Mar Verde prison.

The February 2020 sentence is due to his arrest on October 1, 2019. At that time Ferrer was taken by the police after being assaulted in his own home alongside 4 other activists. In a closed-door trial, he received a 4 ½-year-imprisonment sentence for abducting and assaulting a man in jail. He served six months in jail before international pressure led the Cuban government to release him on house arrest.

Ferrer co-founded UNPACU upon his release from 8 years in prison. He was detained during a government crackdown known as the Black Spring in 2003. Ferrer has been arrested over 100 times throughout his decades-long activism. His story has attracted the international community’s attention. Most recently, Amnesty International named him a prisoner of conscience. In addition, the U.S. State Department’s 2019 annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices specifically highlighted the threats and assaults against UNPACU and more specifically the experiences of Ferrer.

In 2009, Ferrer and fellow Cuban dissidents Librado Linares García, Iván Hernández Carrillo, Jorge Luis García Pérez, and Iris Pérez Aguilera were jointly given the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy for their involvement in the pro-democracy movement in Cuba. He also received the 2011 XIII International Award on Human Rights from the Cuban-Hispanic Foundation for his years of activism.




Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara

CUBA/Detained July 11, 2021

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is a Cuban artist, activist, and founding member of the San Isidro Movement (MSI). Luis Manuel was most recently arrested on his way to peaceful protests on July 11, 2021 (#11J) in Havana. The protesters chanted “freedom” and demanded an end to the over 60-year-old Communist dictatorship on the island. Alcántara was arrested alongside MSI members and activists in a large crackdown by the Cuban government, in which over 800 Cubans were arrested and imprisoned. He remains held in a maximum security prison, with no date set for his trial. The poor conditions of this prison put him at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

Throughout his career as an artist, Alcántara has been continuously targeted and arrested on account of his art and using it as a medium to advocate for greater freedom of expression and respect for human rights in Cuba. He practices both sculpture and performance art as forms of protest against the government, and shares his art widely on Instagram. Just before his arrest on July 11, Alcántara was in jail from April 24, 2021, until May 31, 2021, after a hunger strike. During this time, he carried out a hunger strike in protest of the Cuban government’s violations of his and other activists’ rights to Freedom of Expression.

The San Isidro Movement was created in 2018 in response to Decree 349, a law that requires all art and artistic events to be approved by the Ministry of Culture. MSI is a collective of artists that continuously promotes freedoms and rights of Cubans. The World Movement for Democracy honored the MSI with a Democracy Courage Tribute on July 8, 2021,. In accepting the award, Alcántara stated: “The art that we make in the MSI demonstrates and assumes the responsibility of art as a driving force that can change the world.” In September 2021, Luis Manuel was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 2021 most influential people of the year.




We Stand In Solidarity with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights — Open Letter

Over 60 human rights organizations from across the world have signed the below open letter to show solidarity with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and urge that Egyptian authorities immediately and unconditionally release Karim Ennarah, Mohammed Basheer, and Gasser Abdel-Razek.


We stand in solidarity with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). We are human rights organizations and initiatives deeply concerned about the unprecedented and alarming escalation against EIPR, one of Egypt’s oldest and most reputable human rights organizations. Since 15 November 2020, three employees of the organization were arbitrarily arrested and detained by the Egyptian security forces, Karim Ennarah Director of EIPR’s Criminal Justice Unit, Mohammed Basheer, EIPR’s Administrative Manager, and Gasser Abdel-Razek, the Executive Director of EIPR.

We are extremely concerned about the unfounded accusations levelled against Mohammed Basheer during his questioning at the Supreme State Security Prosecution’s office, which included joining an unnamed terrorist organization and “committing one of the crimes of funding terrorism”. We were appalled to hear that such trumped charges can be made against an administrative manager at an established NGO and legal aid organization. Not to mention EIPR is one of the few independent human rights NGOs remaining in Egypt who continues to work publicly and to engage with state institutions.

Mohammed Basheer was arrested from his home in the early hours of Sunday, 15 November, by a heavily armed security force, and detained incommunicado in a security facility for 12 hours before being transferred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). He was questioned, respectively at the National Security Agency without a lawyer and then at the SSSP, about a visit by several diplomats to the offices of EIPR, about their criminal defense work and their publications. These are perfectly legitimate activities for a human rights and legal aid organization to undertake and do not justify in any way the prosecution’s decision to detain him for 15 days. Nor does it explain the accusations of joining a terrorist organization, spreading false information, undermining public security – charges that were not supported by any evidence.

Just days after the arrest of Basheer, the authorities arrested Karim Ennarah on 18 November 2020, while he was sitting in a restaurant in Dahab, South Sinai, while on vacation. Security forces had gone to Ennarah’s home in Cairo early in the morning of 17 November 2020, while he was not there. Security forces confiscated Ennarah’s laptop, phone and personal belongings during his arrest. After an investigation that lasted for four hours, the Supreme State Security Procurator ordered Ennarah’s pretrial detention for 15 days per case 855 of 2020 pending investigations over fabricated charges of “joining a terrorist group”, “using a social media account to spread false news” and “spreading false news”. The prosecutor said that this is based on security investigations showing that Karim “agreed with a group inside prisons to spread false rumors that could undermine public peace and public safety.”

On 19 November, EIPR reported that security forces had arrested Gasser Abdel-Razek from his home in Cairo and taken him to an unknown location. He later appeared and was interrogated at the State Security Prosecution, who ordered his pretrial detention for 15 days in case 855 pending investigations into the unfounded charges of “joining a terrorist group”, “disseminating false statements to undermine public security”, and “using the internet to publish false news”.

We believe that Karim Ennarah, Mohammed Basheer, and Gasser Abdel-Razek are being targeted solely because of the legitimate work of EIPR, in order to intimidate EIPR staff members and the Egyptian human rights community at large and therefore their detention is arbitrary. We are also increasingly concerned about the ever-tightening space for organizations like EIPR and others who choose to carry out their work publicly in Egypt, and who are being punished for trying to uphold human rights and constitutional norms in the country.

We are writing to you because we are counting on your support and advocacy for the immediate and unconditional release of Mohammed Basheer, Karim Ennarah, and Gasser Abdel-Razek and the dismissal of the case against them.


  1. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-France)
  2. Akahata A.C. (Argentina)
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights (ANKH association)
  5. Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)
  6. ARCI
  7. ARTICLE 19
  8. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  9. Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
  10. Association Beity (Tunisie)
  11. Association de Défense des Libertés Individuelles (ADLI-Tunisie)
  12. Association for Progressive Communications – APC
  13. Association Tunisienne des Femmes démocrates (ATFD-Tunisie)
  14. Association Yakadha pour la démocratie et l’État civique (Tunisie)
  15. Awan Organization – Iraq
  16. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  17. Center for Reproductive Rights
  18. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
  19. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  20. Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL)
  21. Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia (CRLDHT)
  22. Conectas Direitos Humanos
  23. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  24. DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture
  25. GPPAC-Southeast Asia
  26. EuroMed Rights
  27. Federation for Women and Family Planning (Poland)
  28. Feminist Alliance for Rights (FAR)
  29. Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Économiques et Sociaux (FTDES-Tunisie)
  30. Freedom House
  31. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  32. ILGA World
  33. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
  34. Initiative franco-égyptienne pour les Droits et les Libertés
  35. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  36. International Service for Human Rights
  37. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)
  38. La Coalition Tunisienne Contre la Peine de Mort
  39. Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)
  40. Lawyers for Justice in Libya
  41. LIBERA associazioni nomi e numeri contro le mafie (Italy)
  42. Ligue Tunisienne de Défense des droits de l’Homme
  43. MENA Prison Forum
  44. MENA Rights Group
  45. Minority Rights Group International (MRG)
  46. Pan Africa ILGA
  47. Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
  48. RAWSA ( Right and Access of Women to Safe Abortion) MENA network
  49. RESURJ Alliance
  50. Saferworld
  51. Sexual Rights Initiative
  52. Solidar
  53. Solidarity Is Global Institute (JORDAN)
  54. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
  55. Tamazight Women’s Movement (LIBYA)
  56. The Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF)
  57. The Freedom Initiative (Washington DC)
  58. The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
  59. Women’s March Global
  60. The World Movement for Democracy
  61. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders


Cuban Government Detains Leading ‘Artivist’ Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara

The World Movement condemns the recent violent arrest and detention of artist and civil society activist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara by Cuban authorities and joins organizations like PEN America and the San Isidro Movement in demanding his release. He was arrested in Havana on March 1 as he was leaving his home to attend an independent anti-censorship demonstration organized by the local LGBTQ community. During the arrest a policewoman threw Otero Alcántara’s girlfriend, Claudia Genlui, to the floor and hit her for attempting to record the arrest on her cellphone. The charges against him are widely deemed to be fabricated, accusing him of ‘property damage’ and ‘misuse of national patriotic symbols.’ He’s now awaiting an express trial on March 14, where he is facing the possibility of two to five years in prison.

Otero Alcántara has been detained by the Cuban government more than 20 times since 2018. His arrest comes as part of a larger wave of arrests and censorship of artistic expression on the island. In December of 2018, the Cuban government introduced the controversial Decree 349, which prohibits artists–including musicians, actors, and writers–from organizing events in public or private spaces without first obtaining an official permit from the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

“The charges against Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara are the most disturbing iteration yet of the Cuban government’s ongoing attempts to terrorize him into silence,” said Julie Trébault, Director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “The baseless charges levelled against Luis Manuel and sheer lack of due process he has received are part and parcel of the Cuban authorities’ ongoing efforts to muzzle dissent, intimidate artists, and restrict freedom of expression.”

Join us in standing in solidarity with civil society in Cuba, and share this Alert with your networks on Facebook and Twitter. To sign a petition calling for Otero Alcántara’s release, click here.