Helsinki Commission Chairman Calls on Cuba to Release Czech Citizens

Friday, January 19, 2001

WASHINGTON - United States Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) today called on the Cuban regime to release two Czech citizens who were reportedly arrested after they met with Cuban democracy and human rights activists.

"On January 12, two Czech citizens - one of whom is a member of the Czech parliament - were arrested in Cuba," Chairman Smith said. "They are being held incommunicado, denied access to Czech consular officials and without being informed of the charges against them. Cuban officials have now announced they plan to try the men, Ivan Pilip and Jan Bubenik, before a 'revolutionary tribunal.'"

"I don't know whether this is payback for the Czech Government's leadership in spearheading a U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution last year regarding human rights concerns in Cuba, or whether this is simply part of the repression of Cuba's own citizens - denying them the right of freedom of association and the right to know and act upon their human rights," Smith continued. "What is clear is that the human rights of these two Czech citizens are being violated and that the charges against them are nonsense."

"Keeping them in prison serves no purpose: it will not deflect scrutiny of Cuba's deplorable human rights record at the forthcoming March meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission nor will it stop Cubans from dreaming of freedom. I urge Cuban authorities to immediately release Ivan Pilip and Jan Bubenik," said Chairman Smith.

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