Miami Herald op/ed
For human rights in Cuba and worldwide
By OSWALDO PAYA SARDINAS
Below are excerpts of a message from Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, prominent Cuban democracy activist and Christian Liberation Movement leader, to delegates at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Havana this week.
The nations that belong to the Non-Aligned Movement, now at their summit here in Cuba, have proclaimed that the most important mission for this event is the defense of the international rule of law; the right to peace, sovereignty and self-determination of peoples; and the recognition of the right of every nation to provide to its own economic, social and political system. Also a priority is the necessity of a new international economic order.
Only through a dialogue without borders—among states, nations, cultures and citizens of all nations, as free men and women—based on mutual respect and goodwill may such objectives be achieved. Such objectives are legitimate and just aspirations of all peoples, regardless of their economic or cultural development or geographical situation. Moreover, these are legitimate and achievable aspirations for international relations based on solidarity, cooperation and fraternal alliance between human families who share planet Earth as home.
Our exhortation, for the members of the Non-Aligned Movement as well as all other nations, is for such a dialogue without borders to begin.
But these aspirations cannot be disconnected from the aspiration and the right that the citizens of the world have to be free beings whose rights are respected in their native countries.
Yet in Cuba, host for this summit that proclaims these noble goals, peaceful citizens remain imprisoned for defending human rights and advocating changes so that all citizens may enjoy political, social, economic and civil rights.
How can the goals of respecting the right of nations to sovereignity and to choose their own political, social and economic systems be achieved if the citizens of some countries cannot freely express themselves, elect their own government, travel, enjoy all human rights, or if they cannot democratically change the political or economic system because the system has been declared irrevocable?
There is no legitimacy for a nation that does not embrace all of its citizens without exclusions. It is not valid, either, to pit a nation’s right to self-determination and sovereignty against the fundamental rights of the peoples and individuals. On the contrary, those rights are inseparable. A nation cannot honestly aspire toward some rights without aspiring toward others.
We are asking the honorable Secretary of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and all delegates attending this summit, to advocate for the liberation of all nonviolent Cuban political prisoners—at this event, at the U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Human Rights Council. Requesting the Cuban government to comply with this act of justice contributes to reconciliation and peace among Cubans and to the international peace and justice that the Non-Aligned Movement proclaims.