Friday, April 23, 2010

60 days after the Death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Orlando Zapata Tamayo
Human Rights Activist, Civic nonviolent practitioner, Varela Project Activist

May 5, 1967 - February 23, 2010

It outrages me but sadly does not surprise me that 2 months after prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after 82 days on a water only hunger strike, in which prison officials denied him water for more than two weeks, to protest the brutal and inhumane treatment against Cuban prisoners in general that the dictatorship and their apologists continue to smear the name of a good man that can no longer defend himself. Orlando Zapata Tamayo was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience after carefully examining his case over a period of months on January 29, 2004. This is Amnesty's description of Orlando Zapata Tamayo:

Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Date of arrest: 20 March 2003

Sentence: No trial yet, but charged with “desacato”, “desordenes publicos”, “public disorder”, and “desobediencia”.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo is a member of the Movimiento Alternativa Republicana, Alternative Republican Movement, and a member of the Consejo Nacional de Resistencia Cívica, National Civic Resistance Committee.

He has been arrested several times in the past. For example he was temporarily detained on 3 July 2002 and 28 October 2002. In November 2002 after taking part in a workshop on human rights in the central Havana park, José Martí, he and eight other government opponents were reportedly arrested and later released. He was also arrested on 6 December 2002 along with Oscar Elías Biscet3, but was released on 8 March 2003.

Most recently, he was arrested on the morning of 20 March 2003 whilst taking part in a hunger strike at the Fundación Jesús Yánez Pelletier, Jesús Yánez Pelletier Foundation, in Havana, to demand the release of Oscar Biscet and other political prisoners. He was reportedly taken to the Villa Marista State Security Headquarters. He has not been tried yet, but the prosecutor is reportedly asking for three years’ imprisonment for “desacato”, “desordenes publicos”, “public disorder”, and “desobediencia”.

He has reportedly been moved around several prisons, including Quivicán Prison, Guanajay Prison, and most recently, Combinado del Este Prison in Havana. According to reports, on 20 October 2003 he was dragged along the floor of Combinado del Este Prison by prison officials after requesting medical attention, leaving his back full of lacerations.

Video tribute to Orlando Zapata Tamayo (in Spanish)

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