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Posted December 15, 2005 by Cubana in Castro's Cuba

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By Stephen Gibbs

BBC News, Havana

Wednesday 14 December

A group of Cuban women say they have been barred by their government from travelling to Europe to collect a prestigious human rights award.

The group, known as the Ladies in White, are joint winners of this year’s Sakharov prize for freedom of thought.

For the last two years the women, who are relatives of jailed dissidents, have staged a weekly protest march.

They have been invited to Strasbourg by the European Parliament to receive the award, to be presented on Wednesday.

The other winners are Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim and Paris-based Reporters without Borders.

Like all Cubans who wish to travel, the Ladies in White had to first get specific permission from the Cuban authorities. The women say they applied weeks ago.

They say their requests were not officially turned down; instead, it was indicated to them that no decision on their applications would be made until well after the Strasbourg ceremony had taken place.

Miriam Leiva, one of the group who was intending to travel, said she is disappointed but not surprised.

“The government does with our lives whatever it wishes,” she said.

“They control whether we can travel abroad, they won’t allow any opinion other than theirs and we are very peaceful people and we have been just striving for our rights.”

Three years ago another Cuban dissident, Oswaldo Paya, won the same award.

He was allowed to leave the country to collect it.

But a few months after his return, Cuba arrested, tried and jailed 75 dissidents accusing them of being mercenaries in the pay of the US government.

The Ladies in White are relatives of those and other imprisoned dissidents.

They say that their demonstrations will continue.

They have also called on the EU to send a delegation to Cuba to present their award.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on December 18, 2005 by ROLO


      As I have rejected the unfair decision to shut out CUBA from
      participating in the Classic Baseball World Series,It seems
      to me,in the same way,I have to reject the decision to ban
      these ladies to get their prize in Brusels.Damas de Blanco is
      not more not less than a civil movement within the cuban society to protest against situation that they consider harmful
    and unfair,they have the right to do that in a pacific manner,
    and they do that very peaceful,the are not a puppet of any -
    foreigner government,entity o whatever,they are a genuine and
    courageous Cuban Civil Movement and when banning them the cuban
    goverment are undermining its credibility.I am in the standpoint that the decision about baseball is a point for the cuban goverment,and the decision to ban Damas de Blanco to go
    to receive the prize is a black point against the credibility
    to the cuban goverment.JosÈ MartÝ has said go to the root of
    the problem,and in this way,I would say the root in this unfair
    affair is that many cuban have been jailed on unfair basis,and
    that created movement like DAMAS dE Blanco,if the cuban goverment rectify its mistake,no reason to be longer Damas de
    Blanco,no reason to Sajarov Prize,and no more rifts over this
    issues.Striking on mistake,brings more and new mistakes.


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