The president of the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba, Oswaldo Paya, has sent an open letter to the public denouncing the growing risk of death that prisoners of conscience are facing in Cuban prisons.
In his letter, Paya noted that the increased risk is due to the fact that “Cuban political prisoners are confined together with common prisoners who on occasion threaten and harass them, with the encouragement of the authorities themselves.”
Violence and bloodshed are frequent among common prisoners and from abusive prison guards, Paya said, noting that in all the prisons of Cuba, “political prisoners have a high possibility of being assaulted and suffer great anxiety and stress, due to confinement in cruel, degrading conditions that are life-threatening.”
“To confine political prisoners with common ones,” the letter explained, “has not been very common in Cuba’s history, even during the dictatorship prior to this one, but now it has become a perverse practice on the part of authorities who are enraged with these people only because they dared to defend and promote the rights of Cubans,” Paya noted.
“The alternative to confinement with common prisoners has been isolation in solitary confinement or in conditions appropriate not even for animals,” he said.
Nevertheless, the threats worsened this month as two political prisoners were threatened with execution by firing squad by various state security officials. According to Paya, “these direct and express threats by a group of State security agents and prison officials need no adjectives or explanations, as they are simply being told they would be killed.”
“All Cubans should be made aware of the degrading conditions and risk of death suffered by those who are in prison solely for defending the human rights of all Cubans,” Paya continued. He added that all prisoners, both political and common, are in reality victims of the inhuman and degrading conditions.
“The voices inside and outside Cuba are few and are often drowned out by those who shout louder with lies,” or they are silenced by those who want to protect their jobs instead of “assuming the consequences of confronting injustice,” his letter stated in conclusion.