Tuesday, 06 December 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center
A Christian human rights group on Tuesday, December 6, urged the release of influential Christian human rights activist, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, on the third anniversary of his imprisonment in Cuba amid growing concern about his health.
In a statement to BosNewsLife, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said it has received reports that “Dr. Biscet’s health continued to worsen as the authorities at the Combinado del Este Prison, where he is currently being held, placed harsher restrictions on the human rights defender.” Dr. Biscet, 44, “suffers from hypertension, chronic gastritis, and high cholesterol [and] has not been able to receive the food items his family brings him,” said his wife Elsa Morejon Hernandez, and his parents, Hilda G. Gonzalez Alvarez and Luis N. Biscet Cadet in an earlier letter published by BosNewsLife. They said he had been placed in a “Maximum Severity System: Phase 1” because of his continued refusal to wear the uniform of a common prisoner. As part of his punishment, family visits have been reduced to two hours every four months, down from every 45 days, family members said.Although prison authorities reportedly said he would be allowed to receive items of personal hygiene and some food, his family claimed Biscet has so far not received the food they have been bringing him His family also expressed concern that Biscet is only allowed to go outside into the sunlight every 8 to 10, while his cell is frequently without water. We pray to God that He would touch the hearts of many good people in the world,” the family said. “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.” CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said his group was “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.” He said 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.” Dr Biscet was detained on December 6, 2002 for organising informal discussion meetings for the ‘Friends of Human Rights’ groups he was trying to establish. He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison along with scores of other human rights and democracy activists in a major crackdown on dissidents in March 2003. He has been confined in a punishment cell for long periods of time over the past two years and human rights activists say he has been denied food at times while his health deteriorates. His most recent detention came just one month after he had completed a three-year prison sentence for his human rights and pro-democracy activities, CSW added. Dozens of other dissidents remain in prison, including Jorge Luis Garcia Perez or ‘Antunez’, who is another prisoner supported by CSW. He has been in prison since 1990, “and like many others, has very serious health problems,” CSW stressed. Cuban leader Fidel Castro has denied there are “dissidents” in his country, and said those detained are “mercenaries” from the United States and opposes his revolution. (With reports from Cuba)