Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Iván Fernández Depestre: Day 29 on hunger strike

Political prisoner Iván Fernández Depestre on hunger strike: Day 29
 Iván Fernández Depestre is a Cuban national of 42 years of age born on October 28, 1971 with identity card number: 71102805363 who lives in the interior of Cuba in  Placetas, Villa Clara province. Since July 30, 2013 he has been and continues to be slowly dying on hunger strike protesting his unjust imprisonment since day one. Today marks 29 days on hunger strike and there are signs that his life is now in the balance.

I believe that hunger strikes should be a method of last resort that should be well thought out on all fronts in order to analyze the likelihood of success and its moral soundness in a particular circumstance.  

Nonviolence practitioner Michael Nagler has laid out five rules for hunger strikers to consider:

  1. Have to be the right person for the job. Not to be used by just anybody.
  2. Right audience. (You should only fast against someone who was in sympathy with you on a very deep level. Gandhi never fasted against the British.)
  3. Doable demand
  4. Last Resort
  5. Consistent with the rest of your life
Iván Fernández Depestre should not be spending one day in prison for exercising his fundamental rights, but going on hunger strike as a first option is a tactic that I would not counsel. Furthermore, the Castro regime has no sympathy for the Cuban activist, and would happily see him die.
Nevertheless, the man's actions are nonviolent but I would remind activists entertaining following that line of action that there are at a minimum 197 different nonviolent actions that one could attempt before arriving at the extreme of carrying out a hunger strike.
However, other human rights defenders in the island and abroad are mobilized trying to save Iván Fernández's life and finding other means to pressure the regime in order to obtain his demand of freedom.
Iván has been jailed since July 30, 2013 under circumstances where anywhere else in the free world would just be the exercise of one's civic duty. Although not formally recognized, he is a prisoner of conscience.  On the afternoon of July 30, 2013 Iván together with other nonviolent opposition activists Loreto Hernández García, Yuniel Santana Hernández, así como Yaite Diasnelli Cruz Sosa, Xiomara Martin Jiménez and Donaida Pérez Paseiros carried out a march in memory of the Cuban martyr Frank País, who was killed in the struggle against Fulgencio Batista (the prior dictator to the Castro brothers).  

This was not his first demonstration. Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" has made public videos that show Iván taking part in nonviolent demonstrations for a free Cuba. On July 22, 2013 he marched in tribute to the memories of martyred dissident leaders Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante who both died under suspicious circumstances on July 22, 2012 in Cuba.

He was tried on August 2, 2013 in a secret, closed door and summary trial in Placetas, Villa Clara and condemned to 2 years in prison for "pre-crime social dangerousness." 

Diario de Cuba describes his current health status as critical. Now is the time to get the word out and demand this courageous activist's freedom using all creative, nonviolent means at our disposal.

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