Prominent dissidents Guillermo Fariñas and Angel Moya are among the more than 20 government opponents arrested in the central city of Santa Clara and other nearby towns, the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said.

In a communique Thursday, the spokesman for the illegal but tolerated commission, Elizardo Sanchez, said that "all the arrests were arbitrary and their purpose was to stop a group of peaceful members of the opposition from meeting in that city."

Sanchez said that at least 27 arrests have been confirmed and that 12 hours after the arrests, none of these prisoners has been reported freed.

"This wave of detentions in the central region has an immediate precedent in the arrests last weekend in the Palma Soriano-Santiago de Cuba region on the eastern part of the island, the activist Sanchez said, while reporting other arrests in the nearby cities of Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus.

In a recent report, the same commission said that in August the level of "police violence against peaceful dissidents was the highest in recent years," and that it had documented at least 243 brief detentions during that period.

Guillermo Fariñas, recipient of the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, has been temporarily taken into custody several times this year.

Angel Moya, one of the 75 dissidents jailed during the Black Spring of 2003, was released last February as part of a process mediated by the Cuban Catholic Church with the aid of the Spanish government.

Moya's wife Berta Soler told Efe that all she knows is that her husband was arrested on the street Thursday morning as he and Fariñas were leaving the latter's house in Santa Clara, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) east of Havana.

According to Soler, a spokeswoman for the Ladies in White movement, Moya and Fariñas "were going to continue the peaceful Boitel-Zapata Vive national march," and said that besides them some 15 others have been jailed, members of a group called the Central Coalition.

She also recalled that her husband had been arrested last week in the eastern town of Palma Soriano while organizing the "peaceful march" with other dissidents, and was freed on Monday.

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