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15 Mar 2006 00:00 - 00:00

Cuba's home-grown Guantanamo

In March 2003, the Cuban government arrested 75 members of the democratic opposition, journalists, librarians and trade unions representatives for supposed ‘collaboration with a foreign power against their homeland’. Their sentences, with the exception of one, ranged from 10 to 28 years in prison. The largest crackdown in recent decades brought the activities of Cuban dissidents into the spotlight and generated condemnation from human rights groups and governments across Europe.


Speakers include: Edward Mc-Millan Scott, Jaromir Štětina

Chair: Profesor Conor Gearty, Centre for the Study of Human Rights 


Date and time: 1.15-2.30pm, Wednesday 15 March 2006


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Three years later, almost all those incarcerated in 2003 remain in prison and the persecution of those who attempt to express free opinion continues. To mark the anniversary of the arrests, this seminar will explore the role of small actors, such as dissidents, journalists and librarians in social change, and ask why the UK should be interested in the issue of Cuba.


-          What was the importance of such actors in the democratic reform of former Soviet states?

-          What role are they playing in Cuba?

-          What are the restrictions of freedom that they are facing?

-          Is the Cuban opposition a legitimate political force?

-          How is this relevant to the UK’s foreign affairs agenda?


Edward Mc-Millan Scott is a Vice-President of the European Parliament. He was the leader of the Conservatives in the EU from 1997-2001 and a member of the Foreign Affairs, Human Rights and Common Foreign Security Committee. Mr McMillan-Scott was responsible for the founding of the European Democratic Initiative (presently the EIDHR) which now spends £100 million each year developing democracy and civil society worldwide. He is presently working to set up a pro-democracy foundation in Brussels.


Mr McMillan-Scott has been active in support of human rights and democracy in the ex-Soviet bloc, the Middle East, China and presently in Cuba. He is a member of the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba, founded in 2003 by an international group of prominent statesmen and intellectuals to assist those struggling for democracy in Cuba.



Jaromir Stetina was an instrumental figure of Czech journalism of 80s and 90s and in 2004 was elected into the Czech Senate as an independent candidate. He is most known as a war correspondent from Europe, Asia and Africa, in particular from conflict areas of the former Soviet Union. He is responsible for the founding of a number of Czech organizations, including the independent journalistic agency Epicentrum (1994) and the humanitarian aid and human rights organization, People in Need (1992), of which he is presently a member of the board of directors.


People in Need have been working with the democratic movement in Cuba since 1997 by supporting those peacefully fighting the regime. With People in Need, Mr Štětina has travelled to Cuba and met with Cuban democratic activists. He is a member of the Czech Committee for Democracy in Cuba, a national group which highlights the growing repressions of the Cuban government and elicits financial help for Cuban political prisoners and their families.


This event is free and open to all, with no ticket or pre-registration required



30 Kensington Palace Gardens
W8 4QY London
United Kingdom


15 Mar 2006 00:00 - 00:00



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