Jailed after listening to hip hop

Pocket protest logoOn Christmas Day 2010, brothers Antonio Michel and Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz were arrested during a private party at their home in Cuba. Their crime? Listening to an underground hip hop group whose lyrics criticise the government, and dancing in the street with the Cuban flag.

For this they were sentenced to two and three years in prison respectively for ‘public disorder’ and ‘insulting symbols of the homeland’. We believe that the brothers, who are both independent journalists and members of the Cuban Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs, were sentenced on political grounds. We’re calling on Cuban president Raúl Castro to release them immediately. Background to this case

Join our campaign for the brothers’ release. Simply text ACTION3 and your full name to 88080*. Over 14s only please. 

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Take action by text and we’ll add your name, but not your phone number, to the letter below which we’ll fax to the Cuban authorities. Prefer to write your own letter? Download a case sheet (pdf)

Re: Brothers arrested after listening to hip-hop

I am writing to you as I am very concerned about the two brothers, Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz, who have been sentenced to two and three years’ imprisonment after a Christmas celebration at their home in Holguín.

I believe they have been detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, and am therefore calling on the authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally, as they are prisoners of conscience.

I would also urge the authorities to remove unlawful restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly in Cuba.

Background to this case

Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz are members of the Cuban Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs (Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos de Cuba) – an island-wide umbrella group of organizations, and the Republican Youth Impact Movement (Movimiento Impacto Juvenil Republicano).

Both organisations are denied official recognition – as are all other groups deemed critical of the governments.The brothers were co-founders of the online newspaper Candonga, which was closed by the Cuban authorities in 2009.

They were arrested as they were holding a Christmas celebration with a group of family and friends at their home in Holguín, eastern Cuba.  During the party they had played music by controversial MCs Los Aldeanos ("the Villagers"), whose lyrics are critical of the government – particularly the lack of free speech in the country, as in their song ‘Libertad de Expresion’ – and danced on the street in front of their house whilst holding the Cuban flag.

Shortly after midnight, police and state security officials, accompanied by government supporters, arrived at their house. The police entered by force and arrested them. Later the police returned to arrest the brothers’ parents and friends. Their family and friends were held for several days before being released.

Following a summary trial in May 2011, Antonio Michel Lima Cruz and Marcos Máiquel Lima Cruz were sentenced to two and three years’ imprisonment respectively for “insulting symbols of the homeland” (ultraje a los símbolos de la pátria) and “public disorder” (desórdenes públicos). We believe these sentences to be politically motivated, relating to the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression by the brothers, and that the sentences are disproportionate to the alleged offences. We consider them both to be prisoners of conscience.

They are both being held at the La Ladrillera prison in Holguín Province. Antonio Michel Lima Cruz is suffering from prostate problems and is reportedly not receiving sufficient medical treatment. He is also eligible for conditional release having served over half of his sentence, but the authorities have refused to respond to petitions from his family and lawyer.

Although the brothers were arrested in 2010, their case has only recently come to our attention. It was highighted in a recent Amnesty report, Routine repression: Political short-term detentions and harassment in Cuba (pdf), which reveals a huge jump in harassment of activists and journalists over the past two years. Find out more about attacks on journalists in Cuba

Join our campaign for the brothers’ release. Simply text ACTION3 and your full name to 88080*

Under 18? So that we can ensure you receive appropriate communications, please include your date of birth in the following format: DD/MM/YYYY (e.g. ACTION 3 Joe Bloggs 01/01/1900).

*Texts charged at standard network rate. Please ask bill-payers permission. To unsubscribe, text STOP AMNESTY to 70004 at any time. See full terms and conditions

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