Ex-rights activist ‘struggled to stay inside her home’

Image copyright CEN Image caption The activists barricaded themselves in their home on Wednesday night, bringing traffic to a standstill

One of Cuba’s most outspoken human rights activists has been surrounded by government supporters in an apparent attack amid an outcry over political arrests.

A video showed ex-spokesman for human rights group Islanden Argelia Gonzalez Dias being pushed about and shouted at as she fought to stay inside her house in Havana.

She barricaded herself with her three children and called journalists for help.

Cuban security and police had converged on the house on Wednesday night.

The home is on the outskirts of town and can be blocked by fences, walls and trees, but before the latest confrontation, Ms Gonzalez had endured long periods of exposure.

Her neighbors apparently came to her aid, and the children left her house. They are now in hiding, Havana news portal Cubadebate said.

Cuba’s longstanding leader, Fidel Castro, said in an interview on Wednesday that Cuba is being subjected to “an attack”, and called on people to “remain in strength to protect the country”.

Image copyright AFP Image caption The former media activist also travelled to London for a human rights conference last year

But Ms Gonzalez, who suffers from some health problems, was ultimately too weak to resist her assailants, and they later drove her away, according to Havana news website Diario Jíbaro.

A video shows her insisting she needs to stay inside her house.

In a later interview with Russian TV, Ms Gonzalez said she had not felt able to lodge a formal complaint with Cuban authorities.

“They offer me tranquilisation if I am too sick to move,” she said.

Cuban authorities have been under strong international pressure to free the scores of dissidents arrested over the past two weeks and to step up human rights reforms.

Last week, the Organisation of American States (OAS) described the crackdown as an “outrageous attack on human rights and fundamental freedoms”, after they circulated a resolution urging the US to delay imposing fresh sanctions on Cuba until Cuba accepted a full written international observation mission.

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