US 'deeply concerned' over detained Cuba dissidents

The United States expressed concern today over the plight of several dissidents detained by Cuba, just two weeks after Washington's historic move to normalize relations with Havana.

Washington: The United States expressed concern today over the plight of several dissidents detained by Cuba, just two weeks after Washington's historic move to normalize relations with Havana.

"We are deeply concerned about the latest reports of detentions and arrests by Cuban authorities of peaceful civil society members and activists," the US State Department said in a statement.

"We strongly condemn the Cuban government's continued harassment and repeated use of arbitrary detention, at times with violence, to silence critics, disrupt peaceful assembly and freedom (of) expression, and intimidate citizens," it said.

Cuban authorities detained or kept at home several dissidents yesterday, including a performance artist who organized an open-mic session for Cubans to speak out about their future.

Elizardo Sanchez, a spokesman for dissidents in the Americas' only communist regime, said 10 people were confirmed as arrested or under house arrest, but that the number could be higher.

US President Barack Obama this month moved to revive diplomatic ties and ease a trade embargo, ending 50 years of hostility between the former Cold War foes.

The detentions seemed certain to revive criticism from those who disapprove of the rapprochement, including many members of the US Congress who have said that the United States should first have secured concessions from Cuba on human rights.

Cuba's President Raul Castro has said he was ready to discuss any topic with Washington after the historic bilateral rapprochement, but has warned that he will not carry out political change.

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