Czech women demand release of Cuban dissidents

Thirteen Czech women activists released a petition Friday in support of wives of jailed Cuban dissidents to urge the government in Havana to release its political prisoners. The Cuban women, known as "Ladies in White," have been protesting peacefully every Sunday since 2003 against the continued detention of their husbands and sons in Cuba.

They wear white as a symbol of peace and innocence of those imprisoned. "We ... stand together with these Cuban women and with our signatures demand that the Cuban government grant amnesty for political prisoners," the document signed by Information Minister Dana Berova, European Parliament lawmaker Jana Hybaskova, wife of former Czech President Vaclav Havel, Dagmar, and others said. The petition was organized by the Czech People in Need human rights group.

An official at the Cuban Embassy in Prague declined to comment on the petition, but Havana has characterized their husbands as counterrevolutionaries and American mercenaries. In October, the "Ladies in White" were among those who received the 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by the European Parliament.

The prize, named after a former Soviet dissident, is awarded annually to the person or group who are judged to have made a particular achievement in the field of human rights, protecting minorities, defense of international cooperation or promotion of democracy and the rule of law, reports the AP. N.U.

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