Award of the 2005 Sakharov Prize to the Damas de Blanco
Lieu: European Parliament
End production: 23/04/2013 First transmission: 23/04/2013
The Cuban protest movement "Damas de Blanco" visited today the European Parliament in order to receive their Sakharov Prize diploma from the EP President Martin SCHULZ, 8 years after they were awarded. In 2005 this movement was laureate with the Sakharov Prize which means to honour individuals or organisations who have dedicated their lives to defend human rights and freedom of thought. It was named Sakharov because of the Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov and was established in December 1988 by the EP. In 2005, when the "Damas de Blanco" were laureate, they were not able to receive their diploma as they were not allowed by the Cuban authorities to leave the country. This movement, translated as Ladies in White in English, in an opposition movement in Cuba consisting of wives and other female relatives of jailed dissidents who meet every Sunday after the Mass wearing white dresses and portraits of their families, and who silently walk through the streets symbolically asking for the liberation of political prisoners. Other Cuban dissidents have also received this award in the EP, such as the recently deceased Oswaldo Payá and the doctor, journalist and political dissident Guillermo Fariñas.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior shot of the European Parliament in Brussels
||Cutaways Damas de Blanco in the European Parliament (2 shots)
||SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Berta de los Ángeles Soler Fernández - President of the movement Damas de Blanco: "First of all I want to say that we are here today in the European Parliament to receive the Andrei Sakharov Prize the EP offered to us in 2005 because of the international political pressures. We are not going to talk about the changes in Cuba because the changes in Cuba are cosmetic changes. I want to tell you that we, Ladies in White, started in 2003 because the Cuban government put 75 men, among them 1 woman, to prison. We went out to claim for the freedom of the members of our families and this is who the Ladies in White movement was founded a 30 March 2003. We continue our fighting because there continue to be some men in prison."
||SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Berta de los Ángeles Soler Fernández - President of the movement Damas de Blanco: "I do not think there could be any reconciliation because Cuban government is clung. Cuban government is totalitarian and dictatorial; a government not interested in people who live in misery and necessity. We will talk about changes in Cuba when there will be respect for human rights. That is why human rights activists react in a peaceful way, to achieve freedom and democracy in our country. In addition, we want a Cuba without the Castros."
||SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Berta de los Ángeles Soler Fernández - President of the movement Damas de Blanco: "There are 4 of us here representing the whole Ladies in White movement but also to support our leader, Laura Pollan, who could not be here physically but who is here with us because we have her in our hearts. In addition of receiving the Sakharov Prize, we also came to denounce the Cuban government. We came to ask to the opposition to continue in a common way; because we are afraid that the common opposition would weaken because if this happens, Cuban government would continue to act with impunity. With the actual laws in Cuba, the government hits women in the streets and other activists for human rights. There is a lot of police violence against us just to keep us quiet, avoiding us to react even in a peaceful way and the have impunity. We would like to ask the support of the international community."
||SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, Representative of the Ladies in White in Santiago de Cuba: "I am representative of Santiago de Cuba. We have right now 61 Ladies in White who will continue until Cuba would not be free, until we would not have freedom of speech or of religion. Because we go to the church to pray for the political prisoners; for the freedom of Cuba and for the respect of the human rights; and political police, Sunday after Sunday, hits us, abuse of us and they put us in their cars and leave us far away from the city; These are women with their children, who have to walk from very far away to go home. We do always live harassed by the political police, but we are firm in our fighting. We are decided to continue fighting for change, because I do believe there would be a change soon, and this is in Cubans' hands, in Ladies in White' hands and in the internal opposition in Cuba."
||SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, Representative of the Ladies in White in Santiago de Cuba: "In this moment there are, in Santiago de Cuba, 47 men and 3 women in hunger strike. I ask for the support of these persons because the Castros' government leaves people to die; as it did with Zapata or Wilman. I ask you to be aware of this strikers to avoid them to finish as Zapata did."
||SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, Representative of the Ladies in White in Santiago de Cuba: "We all Cubans are in prison but we, the opposition in Cuba, and all Cubans together, are going to achieve the freedom of these people, a better future for them and for our children, and we are going to achieve that in a peaceful way, because this is what we are, Ladies in White."
||Cutaways. Spanish journalist from TVE interviewing a Lady in White. (3 shots)
||Family pictures (8 shots)