Open Letter to Bahamas Prime
COMMITTEE TO AID HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS.
P.O. Box 5072, North Bergen, NJ 07047
Tel (201) 868-1310.
October 8, 2004
The R.T. Honorable Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas.
The Honorable Ruud Lubers, United Nations High Commissioner for
The Honorable Louis Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human
The Honorable Janice Marshall, UNHCR, Senior Regional Protection Officer
for the Caribbean.
Mr. Santiago Canton, Secretary Executive of the Inter-American
Commission of Human Rights.
Esteemed Honorable Officials:
The Committee to Aid Human Rights Activists (CAHRA) a non-profit
organization based in New Jersey, the United States of America,
respectfully urges you to intercede on behalf of the refugees who are
being held at the Nassau Refugee Detention Center in The Bahamas.
Several days ago, a commission of our organization visited said refugee
center. We were appalled at the brutally inhumane treatment these
refugees are receiving. The first impression we had was that the locale
looked like a concentration camp. We arrived on visitation day,
September 28, 2004. When we asked where the visitation quarters were, we
were told: “Over there.” The visitation area is a pigsty of weeds
surrounded by wire double fences which separate the visitors from their
relatives. The visitors are not able to embrace members of their own
families. The space between these fences is so great that everyone has
to shout, and often one cannot understand what is being said. The whole
situation is pitiful.
But what we saw was nothing compared to what we heard: “This is a
hell-hole where everything is lacking, except police brutality
–essential hygiene items, medicine, and adequate food.” Even though the
refugees arrive without having had a bath for days, smelling so strong
that would even repel a skunk, they are provided neither soap nor
toothpaste. Visitors have to provide essential hygiene items to their
relatives. The refugee who gets no visitors receives nothing… Medical
attention is totally lacking. In the Center, a woman, Mayresis Diaz
Garcia, who had had a thyroid cancer operation before she left Cuba, is
being denied medicine necessary for her treatment. The food, which is
given once a day, is unworthy of the name. Worst of all, according to
what we were told, the guards sell the good food to those who have
American dollars--worse yet for little children who are not even given
On Friday, October 1, 2004, two Cuban refugees, Rene Mendoza and Jorge
Luis Conde, who had fled from police persecution in Cuba, were severely
beaten. Then a guard named “La Cuca” pointed a gun at their heads and
threatened to kill them. After such an incident, one of them was taken
to an empty room where several guards at the same time beat him
mercilessly. When asked why this was done, the refugees who had
witnessed such vile behavior, answered, “They do it for their
masochistic pleasure. Here they beat us for anything. Even the guards’
faces show signs of drug addition.”
In the camp, men and women alike get a beating regardless of their being
there for reasons of conscience, political beliefs, or economic
necessity. It makes no difference if the refugees are from Ghana, Haiti,
or Cuba. Among those beaten on October 1, 2004, is Jorge Luis Conde, who
arrived at the Carmichael Road Detention Center on September 6, 2004,
along with six other Cubans, who were forced to leave Cuba because of
their democratic activities. The seven Cubans belong to the Democratic
Party 30th of November “Frank Pais” (Partido Democratico 30 de Noviembre
“Frank Pais”), a non-violent opposition organization founded in Cuba in
So extremely barbaric is the treatment of
these refugees in the Nassau Detention Center that possibly not even the
upper echelons of the Bahamian government of Prime Minister Christie
knows about it. The whole matter is disgusting. Therefore, we strongly
urge the government of Prime Minister Christie and the competent
international organizations, among them the High Commissioner for
Refugees of the United Nations in the Caribbean Region and, the Human
Rights Organization of the United Nations and the Organization of
American States to order an immediate inspection of said Refugee
Detention Center in Nassau, and thus live up to their responsibilities.
Furthermore, it is imperative that basic hygienic materials be given to
the refugees, and that adequate medical attention and essential food
also be given. Also needed a roof to protect the refugees and their
family visitors from scorching sun, drenching rain, and the common
courtesy of tables and chairs which are required and is signs of a
civilized society. The refugees are human beings. Remember, women and
children are among those refugees. The Cubans number 67 men, 10 women
and 5 small children. Many refugees in that Center have spent months,
even years, without their cases being attended.
Finally, we strongly urge that refugees for reasons of conscience and
political beliefs not be returned to their respective countries because
they will face condemnation to long prison terms. We strongly request
respect for them and that they be given visas to enter the United States
or at least to go to another democratic country as soon as possible.
Awaiting your prompt response, we remain,
Luis Israel Abreu
Cc: The Honorable Cynthia A. Prat, Minister of National Security of The
The Honorable James Smith, Minister of State of The Bahamas.
The Honorable Vincent Peet, Minister of Labor and Immigration of The
The Honorable Melanie Griffin, Minister of social Services of The
His Excellency Joshua Sears, Ambassador of The Bahamas in the United
States of America
His Excellency Edison Bethel, Consulate General of The Bahamas in New
Her Excellency Paulette Bethel, Ambassador to the Permanent Mission to
the United Nations .