By Geandy Pavón in commemoration of the first anniversary of Orlando Zapata Tamayo's death.
Cuba authorities urged to stop harassing dead activist’s family
22 February 2011
Amnesty International has urged Cuban authorities to end the harassment of relatives of a human rights activist who died during a hunger strike last year.
Reina Luisa Tamayo, whose son Orlando Zapata Tamayo died at a Havana prison in February 2010, told Amnesty International she was arrested by state security agents who threatened to stop her and other mourners from commemorating the anniversary of Orlando’s death in church, on 23 February.
“The fact that the Cuban authorities have so far failed to initiate an investigation into Orlando’s death is outrageous and preventing his family from properly celebrating his life is a scandal,” said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.
Tamayo, 72, her husband and another activist, Daniel Mesa, were forcefully detained on Friday 18 February by more than a dozen local security agents as they were walking around their village in Banes, north-west Cuba. Tamayo and her husband were released 12 hours later and Mesa, two days later.
Tamayo said the agents had threatened to prevent her leaving her home and go to the cemetery where her son is buried, in breach of her human rights.
“The recent releases of activists in Cuba, who shouldn’t have been put in prison in the first place, will only be meaningful if, once all activists are released, they are able to carry out their legitimate work defending human rights without fear of reprisals,” said Javier Zuñiga.
“The harassment suffered by people like Orlando Tamayo’s relatives clearly goes to show that things still have not changed in Cuba and the authorities need to do much more to ensure human rights are a reality for all.”
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was arrested in March 2003 and sentenced to three years in prison in May 2004 for “disrespect”, “public disorder” and “resistance”.
He was subsequently tried several times on further charges of “disobedience” and “disorder in a penal establishment” - the last time in May 2009 - and was serving a 36 year-sentence at the time of his death in prison.
Reina Tamayo said she intends to live in exile in the USA along with a number of her relatives and has been granted all relevant documents by the US authorities.
The Cuban government has yet to issue the necessary permits.
The European Union receives more than 52,000 signatures from the "OZT: I Accuse the Cuban Government" campaignposted on Monday, October 04, 2010
The more than 52,000 signatures of the "#OZT: I Accuse the Cuban Government" campaign were delivered the morning of October 4th at the European Union (EU) offices. The delivery was made by members of the Arco Progresista (Progressive Arch) Party in collaboration with this campaign. The signatures were delivered to Alexandra Knapton, the official responsible for human rights in the cabinet of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton.
Delivery of the signatures to Alexandra Knapton, the official responsible for human rights in the cabinet of Ashton.
The group in charge of delivering the signatures had a meeting with Knapton and spoke about this human rights campaign and its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all Cuban political prisoners. A letter included alongside the packet of signatures informed Ms. Ashton of the repression that continues to take place in Cuba, and asked for the support of the European Union for a future of full respect for individual liberties in Cuba.
Knapton reviews the documents of the #OZT campaign during the meeting.
This is an Art-Performance by Cuban born artist Geandy Pavon, it consist in a digital projection of Franklin Brito on the facade of the Venezuelan Consulate in New york city, Brito was a venezuelan farmer and engineer who die in a hunger strike asking for the lands that were taken arbitrarily from him by the government of Hugo Chavez. He is become a symbol of the struggle for freedom in Venezuela.
In Greek mythology, “nemesis” represents divine justice ─a persecutory memory.
He has staged performances like this one in New York, Barcelona and Washington, proyecting the image of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an Afro Cuban plumber and peaceful activist, died last February of a hunger strike.
Vladimir Alejo Miranda, 47, stopped eating 62 days ago, sewed his mouth Sept. 5 and stopped drinking water Tuesday, journalist Heriberto Liranza Romero told El Nuevo Herald by phone from Havana.
Alejo's wife, Rita Montes de Oca, joined his hunger strike and also sewed her lips Sept. 12 with regular sewing thread and a needle, the journalist said.
Alejo was taken to a hospital in the Havana municipality of Guanabacoa on Wednesday after he blacked out and went into convulsions, Liranza added. No independent confirmation was immediately available.
He was receiving intravenous fluids and could be sent home or transferred to a larger hospital depending on his condition, Liranza said. Alejo and his wife also suffer from infections around the lips.
HAVANA — Cuba's Roman Catholic Church on Friday revealed the names of four more political prisoners to be released into exile in Spain, bringing to 36 the number freed and sent off the island under an agreement with President Raul Castro's government.
The men are among 75 dissidents who were arrested in a March 2003 crackdown on organized political opposition and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. The charges included treason and conspiring with U.S. authorities to undermine Cuba's communist system.
Under a once-unthinkable government deal with the church, which Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos helped facilitate, Cuba agreed on July 7 to release the remaining 52 prisoners still imprisoned from the crackdown.
Nelson Molinet Espino, Hector Raul Valle Hernandez, Miguel Galvan Gutierrez and Jose Miguel Martinez Hernandez will be freed as soon and flown to Spain, Cuban church official Orlando Marquez said in a statement.
That means all 36 former prisoners released so far will have elected to head to Spain with their families. One then continued on to Chile and settled there.
That leaves just 16 awaiting release some nine weeks after the agreement — though some political prisoners have been offered freedom but declined to leave their country.
It is not clear if those released subsequently will be exiled or if some will be allowed to stay in Cuba — and how long their releases will take is also unknown.
The President of the European Parliament met today [yesterday, 14 September 2010] with recently released Cuban political prisoners: Antonio Díaz, Ricardo González, Normando Hernández and Omar Rodríguez whom are all exiled in Spain.
Following the meeting the President said: "There is no half freedom. Freedom cannot be handed out in small rations. Cuban peoples should enjoy their basic human rights, freedoms and solidarity in their own country, not in exile.
I have the highest respect for these brave people here and their families. They stand as an example to all those who care about freedom, human rights and democracy.
The release of the prisoners is a positive step.
However, the European Parliament calls again for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba.
The Cuban government must respect fundamental freedoms, especially the freedom of expression and political association. I wrote this summer to President Castro to allow the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) to leave the island so that they can accept Parliament's invitation to collect the 2005 Sakharov Prize in person.
We voice again our profound solidarity with the entire Cuban people and support them in their progress towards democracy and respect and promotion of fundamental freedoms."
ISHR: New arrests and repressions against civil rights activists and independent journalists after the announced release of 52 political prisoners
Frankfurt am Main (23 August 2010) – One month after the announced release of 52 political prisoners new violations against civil rights activists and independent journalists minimize the hope that the Castro regime could move in the direction of respect for human rights and more democracy. The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) in Frankfurt, Germany, today criticized that the releases go on very slowly and in tiny rates. Until August 23 just 23 political prisoners who could or were forced to leave the Castro state had been released. Most of them would have rather stayed on the island to continue their commitment for a free and civil society. In the light of this fact the EU-Cuba NGO Network appeals to the European Union.
In Germany, this NGO Network is represented by the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) in Frankfurt am Main. The coalition’s aim is to convince the European Union to maintain on its Common Position on Cuba and not to negotiate a bilateral agreement on its fall revision.
The political prisoners who had been released into Spanish exile also ask the EU to maintain on its Cuban human rights policy and to support democracy and human rights on Cuba. Further on the NGO Network calls for the review of the developments in Cuba every six months and for not rescheduling the reviews as it happened in June 2010.
Despite some positive developments it is necessary to add that Cuba is still far away from democracy and constitutional legality. The released Cubans were inevitably forced to leave the country and, thus, their families and had to go into exile in Spain – a part of the agreement with the Cuban authorities. Thus, the Cuban government could legally ditch many human rights and political activists. In this way the democracy movement in Cuba lost many of its most active characters.
ISHR: Arrests and intimidation of democracy movement continue
According to the ISHR, the human rights situation on Cuba is unimproved: repressions against human rights activists go on. Several members of the Cuban democracy movement have been arrested in the last weeks, others have been exposed to aggressive assaults and have been harassed psychological. One example is Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger, the mother of the political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo who died on 23 February 2010 after an 86 days lasting hunger strike. Lately she was bashed by Security Guards, authorities do not allow her attending the mass in church or visiting her son’s grave.
On 16 August 2010, the author, journalist and blogger Luis Felipe Rojas was detained by the Cuban police in his house in the town of Holguín in the East of Cuba. The officials refused a reason for the arrest. It is assumed that the employee of the independent newspaper "Diario de Cuba" (Diary of Cuba) was arrested because of a report about human rights abuses in the East of the island. He was allowed to leave the police station after a questioning which lasted 19 hours.
On 15 August 2010, three supporters of Ms Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger have been arrested by the Cuban State Security. On 16 August 2010, five Cuban students were detained by police while holding a demonstration in front of Havana University. They called their fellow students to campaign for human rights on Cuba.
The ISHR demands from the Cuban government to release the more than 170 political prisoners who are still in prison, to release the recently arrested students and civil rights activists immediately and to stop the policy of intimidation against civil rights activists and journalists. “As long as these people are still in Cuban prisons, the European Union needs to maintain on its Common Position on Cuba and may not engage in a bilateral agreement“, the spokesman of the ISHR, Martin Lessenthin, declared.
STATEMENT BY THE EUROPE-CUBA NGO NETWORK IN SUPPORT OF EU COMMON POSITION ON CUBA
The Europe-Cuba NGO Network welcomes the recent steps by the Cuban government which show some progress in the area of human rights and democracy. We also appreciate that the Cuban government has acknowledged the existence of political prisoners on the island by releasing a significant number of them. The international community, however, should make sure that the release of these prisoners is unconditional, their exile only optional, and their living and working conditions are adequate. In relation to this, we call on the Cuban government to immediately release Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet and other prisoners who have expressed their desire to stay in Cuba.
In September, the European Union will decide on the future of its Common Position on Cuba, as the revision was postponed in June until the autumn months. In light of the efforts of Spanish government to replace the Common Position with a bilateral agreement, we call on the EU to maintain its Common Position as a sign of support for democracy and human rights in Cuba. It is important to stress here that the maintaining of the Common Position was recently officially supported by the released political prisoners exiled in Spain.
As a document, the Common Position does not represent an obstacle to progress in EU-Cuba relations. In paragraph 4, the Common Position states that the European Union will support progress towards democracy in Cuba by, apart from other means, intensification of political dialog and economic cooperation. In this light, the EU can apply additional interim measures that will reflect recent developments on the island - such as fostering of people to people dialog through diplomatic and academic visits, and the deepening of dialog with the Cuban authorities. It is also necessary to reinforce, to extend and to intensify at an institutional level the dialog with the democratic opposition and independent civil society.
If the Cuban government continues and reinforces respect for human rights and democracy with further positive steps, the EU should consider official lifting of the diplomatic measures introduced in 2003.
However, if taking any steps that would lead to closer cooperation between the EU and Cuba, the EU must set criteria which reflect overall progress in the area of human rights and democracy. These criteria might include patterns of documented harassment and acts of repression against political prisoners, political dissidents and independent civil society in general, as well as ratification and implementation of the ICCPR and ICESCR, etc.
Progress should then be revised in the current semiannual cycle, without using additional instruments, as was the case in June, when the EU decided to provide extra three-month period before reviewing the Common Position on Cuba.
The Europe-Cuba NGO Network would hereby like to express its hope that these steps of the Cuban government mark the beginning of its opening a dialog on human rights and democracy, becoming thus a partner for the EU and its members.
(Source: The International Society for Human Rights.)
By Alberto de la Cruz
Alfredo Álvarez Leyva, a prisoner of conscience on a hunger strike and who is being held in the El Tipico Nuevo prison in the Las Tunas province of Cuba has sewn his mouth shut in protest.The political prisoner is demanding the respect of human rights and adequate nutrition for the prisoners being held by the Cuban dictatorship.
Cuban independent journalist Caridad Caballero Batista has reported to Radio Marti that there are 56 prisoners in the penitentiary suffering from severe malnutrition and many more that have not been reported suffering illnesses from malnutrition and the lack of medicine.
(Source: Babalu Blog.)
By Alberto de la Cruz
Miguel Sigler Amaya, brother of Ariel Sigler Amaya, is informing that Guido, the brother still imprisoned in Cuba as a prisoner of conscience, has been placed among common criminals. Guido has received threats and his belongings have been stolen by other prisoners. This is a common tactic used by the regime whereby common prisoners are rewarded for attacking and harassing political prisoners.
This development comes on the heels of Guido receiving a phone call from Cardinal Jaime Ortega pleading with him to accept the regime's offer of forced exile in Spain. Guido informed the Cardinal that he would not accept forced exile in Spain as a condition to his release. He told him that if and when the dictatorship releases him, he will decide as a free man in his home whether or not to remain in Cuba, and only he would decide where he would go if he chose to leave.
Miguel Sigler Amaya states that Guido's transfer to an area of the prison with common criminals and the subsequent threats and theft of his personal belongings is an obvious attempt by the regime to persuade him to accept the Cardinal's offer. Miguel expressed disgust that the Archbishop of Cuba has lent himself to partake in this vile attempt by the regime to persuade his brother through threats of bodily harm to accept banishment and forced exile as a condition to his release.
(Source: Babalu Blog.).
A half-dozen more Cuban political prisoners will soon be released, according to the Catholic Church.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Cuba's Catholic Church on Tuesday said six more political prisoners will be freed and go to Spain, but concern was growing over the fate of 10 others who want to stay and the fresh arrests of eight dissidents.
The church identified the six as Víctor Arroyo, 57, serving a 26-year sentence; Alexis Rodríguez, 40, serving 15 years; Leonel Grave de Peralta, 34, serving 20 years; Alfredo Domínguez, 48, serving 14; Próspero Gainza, 53, serving 25; and Claro Sánchez, 56, serving 15.
An additional 26 already have been released and gone to Spain under an unprecedented agreement between the government and Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega to free at least 52 political prisoners by the end of October.
The 52 were the last still in jail from a group of 75 rounded up in a 2003 crackdown. One wheelchair-using prisoner, Ariel Sigler Amaya, was freed and came to Miami for medical treatment.
But the government has remained silent on the 10 prisoners vowing to stay in Cuba if freed, said Berta Soler, spokeswoman for the Ladies in White, relatives of the 75. Her husband is serving a 20-year sentence.
Soler said some of the women met with Ortega last week and asked about the 10 as well as the two dozen among the 75 who were previously paroled for health reasons but technically remain under penal sanction.
``The government is aware of our questions, but gives no answers,'' she said by phone from Havana.
Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez said he suspects the government will keep the 10 in jail until the end of the process, hoping the extra prison time will make them change their minds.
``It shows the government's bad faith,'' he said.
Sánchez said he's also concerned about the eight dissidents detained this month and still in jail, a shift from the usual government tactic of briefly detaining critics. Only a few dissidents were brought to trial last year, he noted.
Brothers Nestor and Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, Enyor Diaz Allen, Francisco Manzanet Ortiz and Roberto Gonzáles Pelegrín were arrested Aug. 12 during a public protest in Cuba's easternmost town of Baracoa. They are under investigation for charges of public disorder.
Manzanet and González went on hunger strikes the day of their arrest and are now in a hospital in nearby Guantánamo, the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate said Tuesday. The Lobaina brothers joined the hunger strike Aug. 20 and remain in a Guantánamo jail.
Three other dissidents -- Michel Irois Rodríguez, Luis Enrique Labrador and Eduardo Pérez Flores -- have been held since Aug. 16, when they read an anti-government declaration from the steps of the University of Havana. Sanchez said he has received reports the three also have declared hunger strikes and could be charged with contempt.
South Florida Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Tuesday demanded the immediate release of the three, saying they ``face the risk of long prison sentences.''
(Source: The Miami Herald.)
We will update with more details as soon as we receive them.
MADRID — Two more political prisoners from Cuba arrived in Spain on Thursday, where they accused the island's communist government of harassing the mother of a dissident who died in a hunger strike.
The two -- Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, 44, and Fabio Prieto Llorente, 47, both journalists -- arrived on separate flights accompanied by a total of 16 relatives, an AFP photographer at the airport said.
Twenty Cuban dissidents arrived in Spain last month and three more on Tuesday following their release by Havana.
One more, 61-year-old journalist Juan Adolfo Fernandez, is expected on Friday.
In a deal struck between the Roman Catholic Church and the government of President Raul Castro that was brokered by Spain, Cuba agreed to free 52 of 75 dissidents sentenced in 2003 to prison terms of up to 28 years.
The releases came after dissident hunger striker Guillermo Farinas nearly starved to death in Cuba.
Another political prisoner, Orlando Zapata, died in detention on February 23 after 85 days on hunger strike.
Herrera and Acosta charged Castro's regime had been harassing Zapata's mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo, since his death.
"They won't allow her to walk to church [to a cross of Christ the King] to pray for her son," Herrera said.
"That's why we call on the world, the European Union, and the community of democratic nations to speak out against this outrage, this barbarism."
Tamayo told Spain's Europa Press news agency she had only been able to visit her son's grave four times as security services had prevented her "by force" from leaving her home.
Both the journalists also accused Havana of using the release of dissidents to hide the repression of its opponents.
"No one should hope that the Castros are going to make changes," said Herrera.
"The regime will remain the same, corrupt and military," added Prieto.
He said the release of dissidents was merely aimed "easing international pressure" on the regime.
Cuban dissidents say that even after the release of the 52, another 115 political prisoners will still be languishing behind bars in Cuba.
Mother of dead Cuban prisoner of conscience prevented from attending church
Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling on the Cuban government to allow Reina Luis Tamayo Danger, the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo who died in Cuban prison earlier this year, to attend religious services and to cease their harassment of Tamayo Danger and her family.
Since the beginning of August, on consecutive Sundays, State Security agents and other pro-government members of the community in the town of Banes have physically blocked the road taken by Tamayo Danger on her way to church, preventing her from attending Sunday Mass and visiting the cemetery where her son is buried.
Video footage sent out of Cuba shows a line of men in uniform interlocking arms across a dirt road, standing face to face with a small group of women accompanying Tamayo Danger. The women are part of a larger movement across the island known as the Ladies in White, made up of wives and mothers of prisoners of conscience. A crowd of people chants pro-government slogans and shouts obscenities at the women who stand in front of them, unable to pass.
According to Tamayo Danger, for over five months she and her family have been subjected to acts of intimidation from government officials, including verbal abuse and threats of violence. Her weekly attendance at Mass at the La Caridad Catholic Church has been particularly targeted. She says, however, that the violence and intimidation is no longer confined to Sundays.
Tamayo Danger requested that the international media to come to Banes to cover the situation. CSW is calling on representatives of European embassies in Cuba to go to Banes to investigate these threats and show solidarity with her.
CSW’s National Director Stuart Windsor says, “No one should be subjected to these tactics of intimidation simply because they are attempting to attend a weekly religious service, a right enjoyed by religious believers across Cuba. We are calling on the Cuban government to cease its harassment of Mrs Tamayo Danger immediately and to allow her to attend Mass and visit her son’s grave without hindrance.”
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CSW is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.
Notes to Editors:
1. Orlando Zapata Tamayo was one of 75 prisoners of conscience arrested and imprisoned in March 2003 in a wave of political repression now known as the Black Spring. He went on hunger strike in at the end of 2009 to protest prison conditions. He died in February 2010 after prison officials denied him water for eighteen days, leading to kidney failure, and withheld medical treatment until it was too late. There was an international outcry following his death and he has since become a symbol for dissident groups across the island.
2. Video footage of the events in Banes can be found on Youtube:
The footage in this link is freely available to the public. CSW does not take responsibility for the content provided therein. Any views expressed on the website do not reflect those of CSW of its staff.
By JORGE SAINZ (AP)
MADRID — Three more Cuban political prisoners arrived in Madrid on Tuesday, bringing to 23 the number who have been released into exile under Cuba's pledge to free dissidents jailed there since 2003.
The three were among six dissidents Cuba's Roman Catholic Church said last week would be freed. The other three are due to arrive in Spain in the coming days.
The trio arrived by plane accompanied by some 15 family members and were taken to a hotel on Madrid's outskirts, where they were helped by Spanish Red Cross workers.
Twenty other dissidents were flown to Spain in separate groups last month.
The men are among 75 dissidents arrested in a March 2003 crackdown and sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges that included treason.
In a landmark deal after talks with the church and Spain, Cuba agreed July 7 to release the remaining 52 prisoners still held.
All released so far have agreed to leave Cuba for Spain, with one then settling in Chile.
The three that arrived in Madrid on Tuesday were Marcelo Manuel Cano Rodriguez, Regis Iglesias Ramirez and Efren Fernandez Fernandez.
They were greeted at the hotel by other former Cuban political prisoners who waved Cuban flags, sang the national anthem and made 'L' signs with their hands for the word "liberty."
"I think we have been freed because the (Cuban) regime needs to clean up its image internationally," said Iglesias Ramirez.
The three said recent public appearances by Fidel Castro showed nothing was likely going to change on the island. A health crisis in 2006 forced Castro to cede power to his younger brother Raul — first temporarily, then permanently.
"I don't think anything will change," said Cano Rodriguez. "We have been obliged to leave and we're not any nearer democracy."
"There is no opening up. The regime is just looking to gain time as the brutal repression dissidents continue to suffer in Cuba shows."
Cuba maintains none of the released is a former prisoner of conscience and insists they are all mercenaries paid by Washington and supported by anti-Castro exiles in Miami whose only goal was to discredit the Cuban government.
Spain has said it will give all the former prisoners work and residency permits.
(Source: The Associated Press.)
Amnesty International Calls on Cuban Authorities to End the Harassment of the Mother of Deceased Prisoner of Conscienceposted on Tuesday, August 17, 2010
August 17, 2010
The Cuban authorities must act to end the harassment of the mother of a prisoner of conscience who died following a hunger strike to push for the release of other prisoners, Amnesty International said today.
Reina Luisa Tamayo, whose son Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in February this year, told Amnesty International she has been repeatedly harassed by authorities and government supporters during the regular marches in memory of her son that she carries out in the town of Banes.
"Reina Luisa Tamayo is simply paying tribute to her son who died in tragic circumstances, and that must be respected by the authorities," said Kerrie Howard, Amnesty International's Americas deputy director.
Every Sunday Tamayo, who is usually accompanied by relatives and friends, walks from her home to the church of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, to attend mass and then they march to the cemetery, where Orlando is buried.
On Sunday August 15, government supporters arrived early in the morning and surrounded her house, Tamayo told Amnesty International, preventing her and her relatives and friends from marching and attending mass at the church.
Ahead of the march, Cuban security forces also allegedly detained in their homes some of the women due to attend for up to 48 hours, without any explanation for the measure.
Tamayo told Amnesty International that six loudspeakers were installed near her house and were used to shout slogans against her and the Ladies in White, an organization of female relatives of prisoners of conscience campaigning for their release.
On August 8, Tamayo was confronted by government supporters, who blocked her path and, according to her account, beat relatives and friends of the family. She said a police patrol was parked nearby watching the events, but failed to intervene.
Amnesty International has also expressed its concern at a series of recent detentions by the police of independent journalists and dissidents. "At a time when the Cuban government has begun to release prisoners of conscience, the campaign of harassment against Reina Luisa Tamayo and the arbitrary detention of journalists and dissident figures shows that the authorities are yet to make significant progress on human rights," said Howard.
Writer Luis Felipe Rojas Rozabal was detained by the police at 7 a.m. on August 16, at his home in the town of San Germán, province of Holguín.
Rozabal's family is unaware of the reasons of his arrest, but they have said they suspect this might be related to his criticism of the government. He has been arbitrarily detained on several previous occasions in similar circumstances.
Several members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, a network of political dissident organizations, have also been detained.
Orlando was one of dozens of prisoners of conscience adopted by Amnesty International in Cuba at the time. The majority were among the 75 people arrested as part of the massive March 2003 crackdown by authorities against political activists.
Currently there are at least 30 prisoners of conscience in Cuba's jails. Amnesty International calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
(Source: Amnesty International.)
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the Florida Congressional Delegation, issued the following statement after hearing an audio tape of Sunday’s attack on Reina Luisa Tamayo, mother of deceased political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died at the hands of the Castro regime. For the last couple of Sundays, Reina Luisa Tamayo has been verbally and physically attacked by state sponsored mobs as she tries to visit a local church to pay respects to her deceased son in her hometown of Banes, Holguin.
“The cowardly, brutal, dying and fearful dictatorship of the Castro brothers once again stoops to its usual low. Their latest attacks on Reina Luisa Tamayo, preventing this infirmed 62 year old grieving mother from attending Sunday church, is yet another example of the ruthlessness of the Castro regime.
A mob of hundreds of state sponsored thugs surrounded Reina’s home in Banes this past Sunday morning screaming vulgar and racial slurs against her and the five women and one girl who tried in vain to attend church. This grieving mother is even prevented from visiting her son’s remains in the town cemetery because the regime fears any possible outpouring of support for Cuban patriot Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died while imprisoned in Castro’s jails.
Only in a failed state such as communist Cuba would the regime send State Security and Interior Ministry forces to keep a grieving mother from properly mourning the death of her son. The international community must come to terms with the sad fact that the latest ploy by the regime of releasing political prisoners is just that, a ploy. Nothing has changed in Cuba and nothing will change as long as the Castro brothers and their feared and repressive apparatus are in control. Anyone who has any doubt need only hear or see the images from Reina’s home this past Sunday morning.”
For more information: August 16, 2010
Alex Cruz, Communications Director
Office 305-668-5994 or 202-225-3931
Cellular 202-225-8200 or 202-225-4630
Alberto de la Cruz at Babalublog reports on his phone conversation with Reina Luisa Tamayo. She sent a message to the world:
For the past two Sundays the Cuban government has not allowed me or my family and supporters to attend church or to visit the cemetery where my son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, is buried. The government has sent people to carry out acts of repudiation. They have pushed and shoved us, beaten us. Both my legs have been injured by the physical attacks I have endured. We only want to be able to go to church and to pay our respects at the grave of my son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo. They, however, will not let us.(H/T Capitol Hill Cubans)
For five months my house has been surrounded by state security. The government has ordered people to harass and repress us. They have brought weapons with them -- clubs and knives. These people wait until uniformed security agents are watching to push and beat us with the hopes that it will curry favor for them from the government. They hope by doing the bidding of the Castro brothers, the government will overlook how they steal from their workplaces and trade on the black market. The government will not overlook their actions because it a government of assassins!
We have been beaten along with fellow members of the opposition that have stood next to me. My son has been beaten over the head and his back. But we will not give up, we will not kneel to the Castro brothers.
The news media has done nothing to help us. The Catholic Church has done nothing to help us. Cardinal Jaime Ortega has never tried to contact me and has done nothing to stop the beatings we are receiving for only wanting to to go church and visit the grave of my son.
This Sunday, at 8:30 am, I, along with my family and supporters, will once again leave the house and attempt to go to church and visit my son's grave. Whatever happens to any us, I hold the Cuban government responsible!