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Cuba’s Ladies in White Can Now Travel to Collect EU Prize

Members of the Cuban opposition group, Ladies in White, are due to collect the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in Brussels.

They were awarded the prize by the European Parliament in 2005, but Cuba barred them from leaving the communist-run island to collect it.

The abolition of exit permits by the Cuban government in January has made it possible for the women to travel.

They were given the prize for their campaign to free 75 jailed dissidents.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded annually by the European Parliament to individuals or organizations that have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom. It is named after the late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

In 2012, it went to Iranian activists Jafar Panahi and Nasrin Sotoudeh.

The Ladies in White was founded by the wives, sisters and friends of the 75 jailed Cuban activists, who were rounded up and sentenced to long prison terms in 2003 as part of a crackdown on the opposition movement.

Dressed in white, the women march in silence in the Cuban capital, Havana, every Sunday, defying Cuba’s ban on organized opposition and street demonstrations.

They are routinely detained and their protests broken up, but they say their demonstrations have yielded results. All 75 prisoners they campaigned for have been released.

The Ladies continue their protest, now demanding that the convictions of the 75 be officially overturned.

They say that until that happens, the dissidents could be arrested if the government deems they have re-offended.

Fifteen of the 75 remain in Cuba, the rest accepted an offer by the Spanish government to move there.

The women also want to draw attention to other dissidents who they say are still jailed for their political views.

Read more on the BBC

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