By Mimi Li
Epoch Times Staff Jul 22, 2008
Al Sharpton seen in an earlier photograph at the National Press Club. On
Tuesday, Sharpton called on Cuba to release several jailed Afro-Cuban
political dissidents. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK—Reverend Al Sharpton stood with several Afro-Cubans adjacent to
the Cuban Mission to the United Nations yesterday to protest the jailing
of Afro-Cuban political dissidents by the Cuban government.
The imprisonment of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez
"Antunez," and other Afro-Cuban dissenters and opposition leaders has
prompted Sharpton to speak out against Cuba's many human rights abuses
and to ask to meet with Cuban representatives.
"I want to extend an invitation to [President of Cuba] Raul Castro for
an open dialogue," said Sharpton.
Charlie King, acting Executive Director for Sharpton's nonprofit civil
rights organization National Action Network (NAN), spoke on Sharpton and
the NAN's behalf.
"We're going to investigate the facts of this troubling civil rights
issue. If these allegations are true, we will send a request for a
humanitarian mission to be sent to Cuba, and we will do anything and
everything we can to [ensure justice]," he said.
According to the Cuba Solidarity Movement, Dr. Biscet was detained in
Cuba for "25 years for speaking out against the Castro regime, [and was]
subjected to torture and extended stays in vermin-infested solitary
Antunez, on the other hand, has been "harassed and beaten repeatedly by
Cuban government agents since his release (after serving a 17-year
"Let's not forget Dr. [Martin Luther] King's famous quote, 'Injustice
anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'" said King.
Sharpton's latest demonstration came hours after news leaked that
federal prosecutors would stop looking into Sharpton's and NAN's tax
records for tax fraud. Sharpton will, however, pay millions of dollars
in back taxes.
When cornered on the issue, Sharpton and his lawyers stated that even
though Sharpton won't be going to jail and that the criminal
investigation is over, that doesn't mean he can sleep soundly at night.
"Just the fact that the criminal investigation is over doesn't mean that
there is a civil resolution," said a representative of Sharpton at the
press conference. "It's never all over."