Email from Christian Liberation Movement
Havana, August 8, 2007- Cuban political prisoners are confined alongside common prisoners who occasionally threaten and harass them, sometimes at the encouragement of the authorities. The environment of violence, corruption and aggression dominates in the prisons, in which dozens of Cubans have been unjustly confined for long prison sentences for peacefully defending human rights.
According to a phone call that we received from the Kilo 8 Prison and from testimonies by the families of the political prisoners, on August 29th (Publisher note: I believe they meant to write July 29th) three common prisoners were able to get past a guard and go into a prison cell, from post number 7, where they attacked with a sharp weapon another prisoner who it seems they wanted to kill. After a few minutes various guards entered the prison cell and beat the three attackers badly. As a result of the beating, two of the three prisoners that had forcibly entered the cell died. The prisoner who was the victim of the attack by the other three as well as one of his attackers, were gravely injured in this incident and their fates remain unknown.
The peaceful political prisoners Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta and José Daniel Ferrer García are among those confined in this prison. Violence and bloody encounters are frequent among common prisoners and also as a result of abusive and cruel actions by the guards. In this prison known as Kilo 8, as in all prisons in Cuba, political prisoners have a high probability of being beaten and they suffer from great stress and tension as a result of being confined in cruel and degrading conditions in which their lives are in great danger.
Confining political prisoners with common prisoners has been quite rare in Cuban history, even in the previous dictatorship, but now it has become a perverse practice on the part of the authorities that are enraged against these people only because they have dared to defend and promote the rights of Cubans. The alternative to this confinement alongside common prisoners has been isolation in punishment cells or in conditions that are inappropriate for even animals.
The language and death threats are not exclusively made by some of the common prisoners, but also by the prison authorities and the State Security. According to a phone call by Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta to Ana Belkis Ferrer García on August 2nd, in Kilo 8 prison this prisoner was driven to an office in which various prison officials and State Security were present. These officials threatened to “execute” him and told him that he “would be killed in the event that something happened.”
These death threats, direct and expressed by part of a group of men and women from the State Security and of the prison officials, do not require descriptions or explanations, since they are simply announcing to them that they will be assassinated.
All Cubans must be made aware of the deadly dangers and degrading conditions endured by those who are imprisoned for only defending the human rights of all Cubans. But the inhumane and degrading conditions and the environment of blood and terror exist in many Cuban prisons in which the common prisoners as well as political prisoners are victims.
For many years we have called upon all institutions, governments and sensible people to raise their voices in defense of those who are imprisoned in Cuba for defending Human Rights. But the voices inside and outside of Cuba are still few and many times they are drowned out by those who shout lies more loudly, or they are silenced by the false prudence of those who want to play a role without assuming the consequences of confronting the injustice.
Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas