Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Human rights situations in Cuba that require the Council's attention

    United Nations Council
    Human rights situations in Cuba that require the Council's attention
    By Online Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Statement delivered at the General Assembly by House,
    represented by Maria C. Werlau, regarding the situation of prisoners in

    On behalf of Freedom House, I thank you, Mr. President, for the
    opportunity to speak at this Council.

    Cuba has more than 200 political prisoners, 55 whom have been designated
    prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International – nearly half of those
    55 are journalists.

    As we meet today, former political Guillermo Fariñas is in
    critical condition from a hunger strike.
    Cuba's prisoners of conscience

    Cuba's prisoners of conscience have historically resorted to hunger
    strikes to protest abhorrent conditions, beatings,
    malnourishment, denial of medical care, forced labor, unfair
    punishments, extrajudicial killings by guards, and other abuses.
    Moreover, in the last 40 years, twelve individuals have died in Cuban
    prisons during hunger strikes, including, most recently, .

    Currently, there are two dozen political prisoners throughout the island
    who are extremely ill and in danger of dying, including 46 year-old
    Ariel Sigler.

    Countless men and women are also confined for pre-criminal
    "" – an allegation by the government that they will engage
    in "dangerous" activities such as distributing copies of the Universal
    Declaration of Human Rights or discussing issues related to human rights.

    Prisons are rampant with disease. Inhumane conditions lead to acts of
    self-mutilation, psychological disorders, and extreme suffering. From
    2007 to 2009, there were 99 reported deaths from forced or alleged
    suicides, medical negligence, and extrajudicial killings; these reports
    came from just 40 of several hundred prisons.

    Mr. President, we recommend, with utmost urgency, that the Council ask:

    (1) for Mr. Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur for , and the
    International Red Cross be allowed to visit Cuba's prisons immediately;

    (2) that all political prisoners be unconditionally released, including
    those held for "dangerousness."

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

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