Follow us in English at #OZT: I Accuse the Cuban Government
Here is the essential information about the campaign.

Dead for Dissenting

In February 2010, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Cuban mason and political activist, died in jail after an 85-day hunger strike. The starvation death of another imprisoned dissident, psychologist and journalist Guillermo Fariñas, is imminent. Both were among a group of 75 human rights activists, independent journalists, unauthorized political group members and other government critics arrested in a 2003 Cuban government crackdown. Fifty-three of these dissidents are still behind bars, serving sentences of up to 28 years and subject to "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment," according to Human Rights Watch.

Among the people who've sign this letter are Oscar, Nobel and Cervantes prize winners, including director Pedro Almodóvar (left), novelists Herta Müller and Mario Vargas Llosa.

On March 16, 2010, a team of human rights activists from the US, Europe and Latin America launched a campaign calling for the release of all of Cuba's political prisoners, a number estimated to be upward of 200. To date, the petition has been signed by over 53,000 people in more than 100 countries (including, with great difficulty, from within Cuba) and from all over the political spectrum. Among the notable signatories are Nobel, Oscar, Grammy, Pulitzer and Cervantes prize winners and hundreds of prominent journalists, scientists, politicians and human rights activists.

If you live in a place where you have the right to voice your opinion, then sign this petition. Orlando Zapata Tamayo died demanding that right for himself, his fellow prisoners and his fellow Cubans. Your signature can help make sure no one else has to.

We are asking you to sign this letter:
For the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuban jails; for respect for the exercise, promotion and defense of human rights anywhere in the world; for the honor and courage of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, unjustly incarcerated and brutally tortured in Castro's prisons, who died while on a hunger strike denouncing these crimes and the lack of rights and democracy in his country; for respect for the life of those who risk death such as Zapata Tamayo to prevent Fidel and Raúl Castro's government from vanquishing their critics and peaceful opponents by sentencing them to up to 28 years in prison for "crimes" of opinion; for respect for the physical and moral integrity of each person; we sign this letter and invite to sign it all those who have chosen to defend their freedom and the freedom of others. Your Signature

Campaign FAQ

Who are the campaign organizers and what are their affiliations, if any?

Most of the people involved in the campaign emigrated from Cuba during the 1990s and settled in the US, Canada, Europe and Latin America. Several of them were political refugees. They now work as academics, journalists, translators, programmers, photographers and artists. None is the member of a political or governmental association.

How was the campaign team formed?

Most of the team met in the Cuban blogosphere. A core group had collaborated on other human rights projects, most recently a successful fall 2009 campaign to pressure the Cuban government to release Panfilo, a man jailed for being filmed saying there was hunger in Cuba.

Why are they doing this?

The campaign team is united in their desire for a Cuba in which all fundamental human and civil rights are respected.

What are their sources of financing and other support?

The campaign receives NO outside financing or logistical, strategic or operational support. Both the hard costs (website, software, telecommunications services) and the soft costs (an enormous number of person-hours) have been assumed by the team members themselves.

What has the campaign done?

Organized a petition through which Cubans and other individuals around the world (53,000 and counting) can condemn the wrongful death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo in February 2010, demand the release of all remaining political prisoners from Cuban jails, and affirm their wish that Cuba respect the basic human rights of all its citizens.

What are its short and long-term goals?

In the short-term, to prevent the death by starvation of Guillermo Fariñas and any other hunger-striking dissidents and prisoners of conscience, as well as to obtain the release of all Cuban political prisoners. In the long term, to effect a transition to a Cuba in which there is the right to life, liberty and security of person; freedom of opinion and expression; freedom of peaceful assembly and association; and a government based on the will of the people as expressed in periodic and genuine elections.

Is the campaign being coordinated with the hunger strikers in Cuba?

No. Occasionally, we receive messages from hunger strikers conveyed by their relatives or human rights activists within Cuba. Fariñas and other prisoners of conscience are aware of the existence of this campaign and have signed the petition. That is the extent of the coordination.

Is there a set of campaign principles?

Human rights, democracy, transparency and non-violence.

How does this campaign differ from past efforts to promote human rights in Cuba?

This is the first human rights campaign to challenge a repressive regime through the use of e-democracy on a massive scale, joining the myriad voices of Cubans in and out of Cuba; important American, European and Latin American intellectuals and artists; elected officials from all political stripes; and citizens from over 103 countries. It is our hope that the campaign serves as the first step in a peaceful transition to a democratic Cuba.

What can I do to help?

Sign the petition, and ask others to sign it! And stay tuned for campaign updates.

European Parliament Press Release 11-03-2010 - 13:00

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday strongly condemning the "avoidable and cruel" death of Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata and voicing its concern at the "alarming state" of another prisoner, Guillermo Fariñas. MEPs also repeat their call to the Cuban government for the "immediate and unconditional" release of all political prisoners and urge the EU to begin a "structured dialogue" with Cuban civil society.

Parliament, which approved the resolution by 509 votes to 30 with 14 abstentions, strongly condemns the "avoidable and cruel" death of political dissident Orlando Zapata, after a hunger strike of 85 days, and expresses its solidarity and sympathy with his family. MEPs also condemn the pre-emptive detention of activists and the government’s attempt to prevent the family of Orlando Zapata from holding his funeral and paying their last respects.

The resolution, which was tabled jointly by several political groups in Parliament - the EPP, Socialist, Liberal, Conservative and Reformist, Green and Europe of Freedom and Democracy - calls on the Cuban government for the "immediate and unconditional" release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and deplores the absence of any "significant signs" of response by the Cuban authorities to the calls by the EU and the international community for all political prisoners to be released and for fundamental freedoms to be fully respected.

MEPs also urge the Council and Commission to step up action to demand the release of political prisoners and safeguard the work of human rights defenders.

Dialogue with Cuban civil society

The resolution calls on the EU High Representative, Catherin Ashton, and Commissioner responsible for cooperation, Kristalina Georgieva, "immediately to begin a structured dialogue with Cuban civil society and with those who support a peaceful transition in Cuba". There are Community development cooperation mechanisms, such as the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, that could help achieve this.

Parliament also urges the EU institutions to give their unconditional support and full encouragement to the launching of a peaceful process of political transition to multi-party democracy in Cuba.

The plight of Guillermo Fariñas

In addition, Parliament voices concern at the situation of the political prisoners and dissidents who went on hunger strike following Zapata’s death and welcomes the fact that most of them are now taking food again. However, it draws attention to "the alarming state of the journalist and psychologist Guillermo Fariñas, whose continuation of the hunger strike could have fatal consequences".
Lastly, the resolution expresses solidarity with the entire Cuban people and support for them in their progress towards democracy and respect and promotion of fundamental freedoms.


The White House - Office of the Press Secretary - March 24, 2010

Recent events in Cuba, including the tragic death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the repression visited upon Las Damas de Blanco, and the intensified harassment of those who dare to give voice to the desires of their fellow Cubans, are deeply disturbing.

These events underscore that instead of embracing an opportunity to enter a new era, Cuban authorities continue to respond to the aspirations of the Cuban people with a clenched fist. 

Today, I join my voice with brave individuals across Cuba and a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba, and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people.

During the course of the past year, I have taken steps to reach out to the Cuban people and to signal my desire to seek a new era in relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba.  I remain committed to supporting the simple desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future and to enjoy the rights and freedoms that define the Americas, and that should be universal to all human beings.


for the freedom of all cuban political prisoners
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