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article imageCuba dissidents say arbitrary arrests soared in 2016

By AFP     Jan 5, 2017 in World

Cuban opposition activists said Thursday that the number of arbitrary arrests of dissidents on the communist island soared to nearly 10,000 last year.

"In 2016, we documented a total of 9,940 arbitrary detentions," the highest count since 2010, the Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission (CCDHRN) said in a report.

It said incidents of dissidents being forbidden from leaving their homes to demonstrate increased in the run-up to US President Barack Obama's landmark visit to Cuba in March.

The group gave no current figure for the number of dissidents currently in jail. In June 2016, it had put the figure at 82.

The government in the one-party state denies holding any political prisoners.

Cuba's longtime revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died on November 26 at age 90.

He was hailed by supporters across the world as a hero who stood up for the poor. But many branded him a dictator who tolerated no dissent.

He handed the reins of power in 2006 to his brother Raul, who became full president in 2008.

The CCDHRN, led by dissident activist Elizardo Sanchez, is illegal like all opposition groups in Cuba, but is currently tolerated in practice by the government.

Human rights group Amnesty International has listed Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado as a prisoner of conscience.

He was arrested on November 26 for writing messages on public walls about the ex-leader's death.

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