Emergency intervention of world leaders urged in favor of Cuban political prisoners

The health condition of Economist Martha Beatriz Roque and Physician Oscar Elías Biscet, without medical attention in the island's prisons, is serious, says Unidad Cubana

MIAMI (HR) - "We urgently call on the democratic governments of the world, as well as on the members of their parliaments, international humanitarian organizations, and the news media to intervene in favor of the Cuban political prisoners Martha Beatriz Roque and Oscar Elías Biscet, who are imprisoned in deplorable health and sanitary conditions, and to whom the communist regime denies medical attention," says the Unidad Cubana organization in a message to the presidents and heads of governments in Latin America and Europe, to spiritual leaders and to leaders of humanitarian groups and the major media, as reported today by the Madrid daily El Mundo.

Among the addressees of the message are Latin American Presidents Lula, Kirchner, and Lagos , all European government heads, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, Danielle Mitterrand, humanitarian entities and the news media. The document, signed by Unidad Cubana's President, Jesús Permuy, and by its Executive Director, the journalist Armando Pérez Roura, also calls for the release of all Cuban political prisoners.

Economist Martha Beatriz Roque, who is 58 years of age, has received the Human Rights Award from the New York Academy of Sciences for "her tireless work in promoting human rights and free access to sources of information in Cuba." Martha Beatriz Roque has just been sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment in the maximum security penitentiary of Manto Negro, in a windowless, walled-in cell measuring 11/2 by 3 meters, and in solitary confinement. She sleeps on a thin mattress made of rags, without sheets or pillows, and only a hole on the floor for her bodily needs. Rats and insects swarm freely about her cell. Martha Beatriz suffers from stomach ulcers, uncontrollable high blood pressure, and numbness on the left side of her body, and has frequent fainting spells. Since April, she has received no medical attention in the penitentiary, nor has she been given any of the medication she needs.

Physician Oscar Elías Biscet, who is 41 years of age and an African-Cuban, is married and has young children, has been declared a prisoner of conscience by international humanitarian organizations. He was sentenced in 1999 and served 3 years' imprisonment for calling for the abolition of the death penalty in Cuba and for the release of all Cuban political prisoners. Following his release from prison on October 31, 2002, he was again arrested on December 6 of that year. He was denied bail and, this year, railroaded to a "summary" trial, charged with the "crime" of plotting against the sovereignty of Cuba and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He is an inmate in the Kilo 51/2 penitentiary, confined to a walled-in punishment cell measuring 2 x 1 meters, without running water, and no bed or bunk, having to sleep on the floor and clad only in shorts, as all his clothes were confiscated by the prison authorities. Biscet's health condition is also serious, as he suffers from high blood pressure and his teeth are in terrible condition.

"The inhuman treatment to which Martha Beatriz Roque and Oscar Elías Biscet are subjected, and given their precarious health condition, give rise to the fear that, unless there is an immediate world reaction in their favor, these political prisoners - to mention only two of the most prominent ones - could lose their lives in the near future, for such seems to be the deliberate purpose of the regime," add Unidad Cubana's Permuy and Pérez Roura.

"World leaders, and specially those in Latin America , who have been the most benevolent ones with the communist dictatorship, owe a moral debt to the people of Cuba , enslaved and abandoned to their fate for 44 years. The time has come for them to pay that debt by publicly demanding that the communist regime release all political prisoners," said Luis Figueroa, a legal scholar who is also a director of Unidad Cubana.

030708HR / Human Rights News Service

Unidad Cubana Directors Jesús Permuy and Armando Pérez Roura: phones. (1-305) 3796088 / 3796559; Dr. Luis A. Figueroa: tel. (1-305) 4420303