Cuban police harassed and briefly jailed some 35 political dissidents this week in the eastern city of Camaguey, a Cuban human rights group said Friday.
Twenty-three dissidents were “brutally beaten and detained” after marching Wednesday in a demonstration in Camaguey, 530 kilometers (330 miles) east of the capital Havana, the underground Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) said in a statement.
The demonstrators were protesting “the cruel and inhuman treatment” of Orlando Zapata, a jailed political dissident on a hunger strike since December, according to CCDHRN president Elizardo Sanchez.
The protesters were briefly jailed, then released.
Another 12 dissidents, as well as two detained Wednesday, were arrested Thursday at a Camaguey home where they were planning “acts of solidarity” in support of Zapata, whom Amnesty International has declared a prisoner of conscience.
The protesters were briefly jailed, and all but five have been released, the statement read.
The CCDHRN said it was concerned over Zapata’s health, and called for his unconditional release.
In its January annual report, the group said that there are 201 political prisoners in Cuba.
Authorities on the communist island insist there are no political prisoners, but rather US-financed “mercenaries” jailed for threatening Cuban national security.