Saturday, December 24, 2005

Cuba: Imprisoned Human Rights Worker's Health Failing

Cuba: Imprisoned Human Rights Worker's Health Failing
by J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Dec 23, 2005

His family stated, "We pray to God that He would touch the hearts of many good people in the world. Please help us to remove him from the human misery into which they [the Cuban government] have put this humble, black, Christian man, the father of two children, a physician and human rights activist who so loves humanity."
Christian Solidarity Worldwide calls on the international community to renew efforts for the release of human rights activist, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, on the third anniversary of his imprisonment (December 6).
This man was attempting to organize "Friends of Human Rights" gatherings in Cuba. He was caught. He and others were sentenced to 25 years in prison. Cuba was seeing through at the time a major crackdown on any persons attempting to bring freedoms to the grassroots. This was in March 2003.
Dr. Biscet has been behind bars in a "punishment cell." It is at Combinado del Este Prison. There he is confined for extended periods of time. He has not been given the food that the family has been able to take to him, though he suffers from various illnesses. The cell in which he is put is dark. There is little water. He is allowed to see sunlight only sparingly.
The family visits have been cut. The family despairs that they are losing communication with him, that his health is worsening, and that there is no legal assistance powerful enough to deal with the Cuban entrenchment.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has continually tried to get his message out to the free peoples. CSW has attempted to advocate not only for the prisoner but his family and friends who feel ill equipped to deal legally and politically with the stalemate. Therefore, they are asking for prayer from believers globally.
"He has been confined in a punishment cell for long periods of time over the past two years, has been denied food at times, and his health has suffered enormously. This most recent detention came just one month after he had completed a three-year prison sentence for his human rights and pro-democracy activities.
"Many more dissidents remain in prison, including Jorge Luis Garcia Perez or 'Antúnez', who is another prisoner supported by CSW. He has been in prison since 1990, and like many others, has very serious health problems.
"According to an open letter, signed by his wife Elsa Morejon Hernandez and his parents, Hilda G. Gonzalez Alvarez and Luis N. Biscet Cadet, the family has been informed that Dr. Biscet has been placed in 'Maximum Severity System: Phase 1' because of his continued refusal to wear the uniform of a common prisoner. As part of this punishment, family visits have been reduced to two hours every four months (down from every 45 days). Prison authorities informed them that the restrictions are likely to become even harsher."
The family wonders daily how he is dealing with lack of proper nourishment. They know that even what items they have taken for the doctor, he has many times not received. They fear for his personal hygiene. He suffers from hypertension, chronic gastritis and high cholesterol.
"Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said: 'We are saddened by the need to observe this three year anniversary; however, while the Cuban government may hope that, with the passage of time, members of the international community might lose interest in Dr. Biscet, we are committed to ensuring this does not happen. CSW continues to call on the UK government as well as on the European Union to be persistent in raising Dr. Biscet's case, as well as the cases of the many other human rights and democracy activists in Cuba, with the appropriate authorities. We join with Elsa and Dr. Biscet's parents in their prayers for Oscar's freedom'"
Copyright 2005, J. Grant Swank, Jr.

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