International Figures Call for Freedom for Five Cubans Imprisoned in the United States for 15 Years
PRESS RELEASE: Wednesday 30 October
Noam Chomsky, Emma Thompson, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Ricardo Alarcón, Günter Grass and Ramsey Clark have joined other international personalities in support of Voices for the Five, an international coalition calling for justice and freedom for five Cubans imprisoned in the United States.
Voices for the Five, launched today, brings together supporters from the arts, media, legal, NGO and campaigning organisations calling for justice and freedom for the Cuban Five – five Cubans arrested in 1998 while attempting to prevent terrorist attacks against the Cuban people by groups within the USA.
Human rights and legal groups have raised questions about the fairness of the trial. Amnesty International stated that she has “serious doubts about the fairness of the the proceedings leading to their conviction” The organization says that she is “supporting calls for a review of the case by the US executive authorities through the clemency process or other appropriate means”
On 7-8 March 2014, a major two day Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five will convene a panel of internationally renowned commissioners drawn from legal, human rights, political and academic backgrounds and organisations at the Law Society in London as part of the Voices for the Five initiative.
The Commission will hear testimony from René González Sehwerert, the first and only member of the Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence. He will be joined by family members, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world.
A full list of endorsers and video messages from international supporters of the Cuban Five can be found at www.voicesforthefive.com. The website calls on people across the globe to sign up online with messages, photos and videos to add their support to the hundreds of international figures already involved.
Michael Mansfield, famous English barrister, says “I am delighted to endorse the Inquiry into the case of the Miami Five to be held in London next March. It will serve as an expression of truth and conscience by the people for the people. Politicians cannot be trusted to undertake such an exercise”
Noam Chomsky, American academic and activist, says “They weren’t criminals. They were heroes. I mean they were exposing to the US government crimes that are being committed on US soil; crimes the US government is tolerating and theoretically should be punishing itself. The five Cubans took a risk in doing that and that was a heroic act and instead of being honored for it they are being severely punished for it.
And that’s why global opinion is so appalled by this travesty. The only way to remedy the injustice is to withdraw the charges completely”
Irmita González, eldest daughter of René González Sehwerert says “I was only 14 when my dad got arrested and I am 29 now. I have been growing up in the middle of this battle. It’s too long. It’s time for it to end and for my uncles to come back to their families, their life and their country, because they are people who have fought against the harm that has been done to Cuba for many years. They should be free and we need them back.”
Notes to editors:
1. The two day Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five will convene a group of internationally renowned commissioners drawn from legal, human rights, political and academic backgrounds and organisations. They will hear first hand evidence from witnesses about their personal experiences of terrorism against Cuba, the arrest, the trial, legal appeals and the treatment and sentencing of the Cuban Five. This public event and will run concurrently with a full programme of rallies, concerts, exhibitions, screenings, media and cultural events to reach out to the widest audience as possible and generate increased international support and awareness for the cause of justice for the Five.
2. Endorsers include
Noam Chomsky, US academic and activist
Julie Christie, UK Actor
Ramsey Clark, Former US Attorney General
Günter Grass, German Nobel Prize for Literature
John Le Carré, UK novelist
Mairead Maguire, UK Nobel Peace Laureate
Michael Mansfield QC, UK legal
Phil Manzanera, musician, Roxy Music
Emma Thompson,UK actor
Alice Walker, US author
Dame Vivienne Westwood, UK international fashion designer
3. The International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five will be on 7-8 March 2014, The Law Society, Chancery Lane, London
4. The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González – five Cuban men arrested in Miami in 1998 while attempting to stop terrorist attacks against the Cuban people. They were arrested in Miami in September 1998, where they were illegally held in solitary confinement for 17 months and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. An unfair trial resulted in terms of between 15 years and double life.
For further details contact:
Rob Miller, Director Cuba Solidarity Campaign
Katrien Demuynck, European Coordinator Free the Five campaign,
Cuba Solidarity Campaign, c/o Unite, 218 Green Lanes, London N4 2HB, Britain