Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two political prisoners of the dictatorship in Cuba are dying on hunger strike

End the silence on their plight and help save their lives

Egberto Escobedo Morales (above photo)

The world knows about Guillermo Fariñas and his hunger strike demanding the liberation of 26 of Cuba's prisoners of conscience who are deathly ill, but the world does not know much of Cuban political prisoners today on deaths door carrying out hunger strikes in the same manner as Orlando Zapata Tamayo. There are two whose health status and situation are extremely precarious and deserve attention.

Political prisoners Egberto Escobedo Morales at the Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey and Juan Ramón Rivero de Espaigne at the Mar Verde prison in Santiago de Cuba have been on prolonged hunger strikes. Both prisoners have exhibited a marked deterioration in their health.

Egberto Escobedo Morales imprisoned since 1993 has been on hunger strike, as of today May 25, 2010, for 40 days protesting "the subhuman conditions in Castro's prisons" and is being denied the medical attention required considering his health status.

Egberto's mother Noris Morales, is asking the international community to help so that "what happened to Orlando Zapata Tamayo (who recently died after a long hunger strike in Cuba) is not allowed to happen to her son."

Juan Ramón Rivero de Espaigne initiated the hunger strike on May 4, 2010 and was "brutally beaten by his jailers and state security agents ten days later on May 14, 2010. Prisoner of conscience Luis Enrique Ferrer García held at the same prison as Juan Ramón speaking in a recording turned into the Cuban Democratic Directorate states: "he was insulted, beaten to the floor and immobilized by various guards. Rivero de Espaigne continues on hunger strike, he is urinating blood, without medical attention, very thin, and subject to mistreatment and abuse.

According to Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International: "Cuban laws impose unacceptable limits on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Cuba desperately needs political and legal reform to bring the country in line with basic international human rights standards. The long imprisonment of individuals solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights is not only a tragedy in itself but also constitutes a stumbling block to other reforms, including the beginning of the dialogue needed for the lifting of the US unilateral embargo against Cuba."

Back in 1999, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet declared at a press conference in Havana, Cuba
: 'Si un gobierno encarcela injustamente, el deber de un hombre justo es la cárcel' [If a government unjustly imprisons, the obligation of the just man is prison]. He would go on to serve a three year prison sentence for holding a press conference later in 1999 be released for less than a month in 2002 only to be rearrested and sentenced to 25-years in prison which he is unjustly serving today.

At a time when the dictatorship in Cuba is willing to discuss the possibility of releasing political prisoners it is also a good time to discuss repealing the laws that will guarantee a new batch of political prisoners or the re-imprisonment of prisoners of conscience simply for exercising their fundamental human rights.

"Under a government that imprisons any man unjustly , the true place for a just man is also a prison" - Henry David Thoreau

Update June 16, 2010: Frances Robles reported in The Miami Herald June 15, 2010 that "Egberto Angel Escobedo completed his 17th year in a Cuban prison last Friday, and his 56th day of a hunger strike." The article also informs "Escobedo is having trouble breathing, is suffering from a kidney stone passed earlier this month. He pleaded to be taken to a hospital but was returned to his cell block."

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