Tuesday, May 22, 2012

United Nations Begins Examination of Torture in Cuba

A definition of torture
For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. 
Taken from Part I, Article 1, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment(1984)
Ariel Sigler Amaya, who entered Cuban prison a strong athletic individual, pictured above upon his release in June of 2010.
The Castro dictatorship's official news media published an article today titled "Cuba: Over 50 Years without Tortures or Abuse to Prisoners." The article claims that torture had been widespread prior to 1959 with the worse of it occurring during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista (1952 - 1959).

The reason for the article is that the regime in Cuba is being subjected to a review by the United Nation's Committee Against Torture. The review started today and ends tomorrow. The regime and its apologists are doing all they can to hide their dismal record on torture and human rights behind the smokescreen of biased international reporting and slandering authentic Cuban human rights defenders.

 It is true that acts of torture had taken place during the dictatorships of Gerardo Machado (1924 - 1932) and at a greater level under Fulgencio Batista, but both regime's pale when compared to that of Fidel and Raul Castro (1959 - Present). The number of the victims of torture continues to increase.

The Cuban regime had extended an official invite on January 28, 2009 to the Special Rapporteur on Torture only to fail to provide a date for the visit. Three years have passed and prior to 2009 no invitation had ever been extended. What are they hiding?

Torture victims such as Amado Rodriguez and Ariel Sigler Amaya may have the answer.
 Ariel Sigler Amaya was arrested on March 18, 2003 in what became known as the Black Cuban Spring. It was not his first arrest. On another occasion, he had been arrested on December 15 for celebrating International Human Rights Day on December 10. Following the 2003 arrest Ariel Sigler Amaya was sentenced to 20 years in prison. During the course of his imprisonment he suffered ill treatment that led to a steady deterioration of his health placing his life in jeopardy. He was released in June of 2010 an emaciated, wheel chair bound ghost of his former self.  Amado Rodriguez recalled, at a meeting co-hosted by Amnesty International and the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture in Miami on June 25, 2010, the torture techniques the prisoner of conscience endured over the 23 years he was unjustly imprisoned in Cuba.

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