"A shield protecting our peaceful fight" - this is how Cuban protest group Ladies in White praised the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which they were awarded in 2005. This week they were finally able to pick the award up in person after Cuban authorities refused for eight years to let these mothers and wives of political prisoners travel to Europe to collect it. Berta Soler, speaking on behalf of the group, answered our questions and those received from EP's Facebook fans.
EP: How did the Sakharov prize help your fight for freedom and human rights?
Berta Soler: This prize is a shield protecting our peaceful fight and we want to thank the European Parliament for it. We started fighting for the freedom of 75 men, then for the freedom of all political prisoners and for human rights.
Stella (EP Facebook fan): What does the word freedom means to you? What keeps you motivated to keep protesting even though the political repression is increasing?
Freedom is when you can move and express yourself. It is religious freedom and also freedom of association and meeting. We do not have it in Cuba and all human beings must be free, without obstacles from a totalitarian regime. There are many men and women in prison. And we are seeking for moral and spiritual support from freedom lovers.
Harper (EP Facebook fan): How is the political situation changing in Cuba?
Nothing has changed in Cuba. We have great support from the Cuban people, sometimes anonymous support as the Cuban government is the only employer. We will be able to talk about changes only when human rights are respected. The government only cares about keeping its power.
Anna (EP Facebook fan): What message do you bring to the European Parliament?
We are women willing to continue our peaceful fight for the freedom of political prisoners. The European Parliament can trust us, we are not going to disappoint them. But we are also calling for the common position to be kept, meaning that all foreigners talking with the Cuban regime should also talk with the Cuban people and civil society. We want to denounce the regime and the truth must be known.