Today marks one year since Cuban independent journalist Yoe Suárez was put under a government-imposed international travel ban. Over the past year, Mr Suárez, who frequently writes about human rights issues, including freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), has been repeatedly summoned and threatened by the police and Cuban State security.
On 26 January Mr Suárez received an official summons to appear at the Siboney Police station in Havana at 10am. He complied with the order and was isolated in a cell where he was frisked by a police officer before being interrogated by three state security agents, who questioned him about his activities as a journalist and on social media. The agents warned that they were “concerned” about Mr Suárez’s ’s activity on social networks, which they described as “confrontational.”
officers asked Mr Suárez about his journalism for independent news site
Diario de Cuba (Cuba Daily), where he has written about his experiences of
state-orchestrated harassment and other human rights violations in Cuba. An
officer called Johnathan threatened Mr Suárez, saying that as long as he
continued to write for Diario de Cuba, he would not leave the country.
Throughout 2020, Mr Suárez received six police summons, including four issued during a national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On one occasion, he was blindfolded and taken to an unknown location where he was detained and interrogated by two officers for an hour.
Suárez’s family has also been threatened. During an interrogation in
April 2020, a state security agent called Captain Jorge informed him that
he could lose custody of his infant son due to his political beliefs.
In addition, Mr Suárez’s mother was summoned three times in 2020 and
has been interrogated by state security agents on two occasions.
CSW’s Head of Advocacy Anna Lee Stangl said: “Yoe Suárez has dedicated himself to reporting on the realities experienced by Cubans, including those who have been subjected to severe violations of freedom of religion or belief. As a result of this brave and important work, he and his family have borne the brunt of heavy-handed and consistent pressure by the authorities. We call for the immediate lifting of the travel ban on Mr Suárez, and the many others like him, without condition. We further call on the Cuban authorities to cease all harassment of Mr Suárez and his family, and to ensure that the right to freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief and other fundamental human rights are fully upheld and respected.”
Note to Editors:
Yoe Suarez. Credit: Angel Del Castillo