R.I.P. Oswaldo and Harold. (a note from facebook ) by Rose Tang

381668_104703626314434_318390277_nMemorial services were held in Miami and Madrid last night for the first anniversary of the death of two Cuban pro-democracy activists, Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, who were killed in a car crash allegedly orchestrated by the Cuban government. Paya was the founder and leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Cepero was its leader of the youth wing.

Their stories did not make headlines in the world news — the media were busy with the royal baby…

I thought of the remaining Communist regimes: Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea and Laos. I’ve been gradually learning about their resemblances — after all, they’re all little brothers of China.

The Internet is a wonderful parallel universe — it brings people together, especially the kindred spirits, the like-minded and those who share the same dreams. I had never dreamed of making so many friends from Vietnam — all started from my photos of a racist sign on a Beijing restaurant in February. And my posts about Tibet also brought me many Tibetan friends and the non-Tibetans who have been fighting for their cause. My FB friends, everyday you share with me you, your countries and your people. Never met in person, I feel you close and feel your camaraderie. Before, I had been focusing on the plight of the Chinese and knew very little about the human rights abuses in Vietnam and Tibet.

During the first week of June, I was staying up all night posting about the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre that I had survived. For the past 24 years, the week has always been the most difficult week of the year, no matter what I was doing, where I was. On June 4th, I received a long message in Spanish. I could only recognize the words Tiananamen, China and Cuba. I read the piece through google translator and these lines surprised me: “without knowing you, you and your friends from Tiananmen inspired us in Cuba…when all Cubans are free and our brothers embrace a new democratic China. Perhaps God grant me back, to make a silent prayer for my fallen brothers Tiananmen.”
Incredibly humbled, I wrote back to the sender and thanked him for not forgetting Tiananmen.

I knew nothing about Cuba apart from Buena Vista Social Club, cigars, Castro and Che. He wrote back and told me the piece was written when he was in a prison near Harvana in 2008. His name is Regis Iglesias Ramirez was jailed for 7 years for taking part in the Varela Project, a referendum he and his colleagues at Christian Movement Liberation, Cuba’s largest dissident group organized to petition the government for freedoms of speech and assembly. They travelled door to door, from town to town and collected more than 25,000 signatures. But in what it’s known as the “Black Spring”, Iglesias and some 75 scholars and activists were jailed.

So I started to follow the stories of these Cuban dissidents and saw many similarities in their struggles and government crackdowns. Even the methods of harassment are similar. The temperament of the dictators is all the same: thuggish yet paranoid.

The fight for democracy keeps on going, and the trails of freedom are usually landmarked with the bodies of those who fell. RIP, Oswaldo and Harold!

Thank you, Regis and your colleagues, for letting me learn about your movement!

The video below sums up the late dissidents and the Varela Project:

This is a recent piece by Regis recalling the fateful day when Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero died:http://cubalog.eu/2013/07/a-year-after-the-crime/

And Washington Post had this article:

460703_227346920716770_927547953_oRose Tang es una escritora y artista plástica nacida en China que reside en New York. Fue una de las destacadas lideres juveniles del movimiento pro democracia de la Plaza de Tiananmen en 1989. Ha sido activista por los derechos del Tibet y otras causas humanitarias.


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