The human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling on the international community to renew pressure for the release of a Cuban prisoner of conscience.
Jorge Luís García Perez, 40, also known as Antúnez, has now spent 15 years inside Cuban prisons.
According to a news release from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Antúnez was arrested and imprisoned on March 15 1990 and charged with “verbal enemy propaganda.” He had shouted, “We don’t want communism, we need reforms!” in a public square during the live broadcast of the inauguration of the Fourth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party.
He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in the Alambradas de Manacas Prison. Inside prison, according to CSW, he suffered repeated beatings by the prison guards for his refusals to participate in mandatory Marxist “re-education.” In May 1993 his sentence was increased to a total of 17 years for “enemy propaganda” and “intent to inflict damage on government property.”
During the 15 years Antúnez has spent incarcerated, he has consistently denounced the torture and other inhumane treatment which prisoners experience from guards.
Along with two other prisoners he founded the Pedro Luis Boitel National Movement for Civil Resistance, which denounces mistreatment of political prisoners and promotes passive resistance among prisoners to the abuse.
In retaliation, the news release from CSW stated, the authorities have repeatedly confiscated his Bible and denied him water, medical attention and clothes. Antúnez has gone on many hunger strikes to draw attention to the prisoners’ plight, and as a result his health has suffered enormously.
Last summer Antúnez and family members, including children, who had come to visit him were beaten by prison guards. CSW reported on Feb. 12 2005 he was attacked by an apparently mentally ill prisoner, and knocked unconscious. On Feb. 24 he was transferred to the Regimen Especial de Camaguey, Cuba’s most secure prison (http://www.amnesty-caribbean.org/Cuba/uaextra05520001eng.html).
During the Papal visit to Cuba in 1998, the Pope included Antúnez’s name on the list of political prisoners for whose freedom he was petitioning. He is also considered to be a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
Stuart Windsor, National Director of CSW said in a news release, “The government in Cuba continues to try to convince the world that it does not have a human rights problem. The experience of Antúnez, however, which has been ongoing for 15 years, contradicts this. The international community, including the UK as it prepares to take the EU presidency later this year, must continue to apply pressure on the Cuban authorities to respect basic principles of human rights and democracy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Antunez and his loved ones and we look forward to the day when we can celebrate his release.”
For more information on Antúnez or the work of CSW, go to [url=http://www.csw.org.uk]http://www.csw.org.uk[/url]