Email received from Mr. Paya’s organization:
We respectfully ask the General Secretariat of the United Nations to distribute this message to its Member States and to refer it to the General Assembly for its consideration, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
To all Member States of the United Nations:
As Cubans and members of the human family, we are entitled to all the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nevertheless, many of these fundamental rights and freedoms are not guaranteed by laws established in Cuba. Even the rights enshrined in current Cuban law are not guaranteed to all citizens due to a lack of safeguards and to arbitrary actions by government institutions.
In practice, many of the universal human rights, whether recognized by Cuban laws or not, are systematically violated by the institutions and individuals protected under the umbrella of the Cuban government.
Due to this lack of respect for many civil, political, economic and social rights, the Cuban people suffer from to insecurity, exclusion and oppression. In Cuba, there is a notable absence of the rights to freedom of movement, freedom of expression, and freedom to associate according to one’s legitimate beliefs and interests. Citizens are denied the right to democratically elect government officials and to engage in economic activities for honest personal and family gain.
The lack of safeguards to exercise these rights affirms the exploitation of workers, abject poverty, the gap between the right and the poor, the humiliation of Cubans in the presence of foreigners, the discrimination suffered by Cubans in their own country, massive migration and family separation.
The absence of tribunals, and legal institutions and media outlets to protect all rights of the people, leaves Cubans defenseless against abuses of power and arbitrary actions. The denial of free, democratic and pluralistic participation of citizens in the political life of the country impedes the exercise of popular sovereignty and the ability of Cubans to express their desire to effect peaceful change and to achieve peace and reconciliation.
There are many political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Cuba who have been unjustly tried and sentenced solely for expressing their ideas, exercising their freedom of press, and organizing peacefully to promote democratic change and to defend human rights.
We ask the United Nations and its Human Rights Council to adopt our call that follows:
We urge the government of Cuba:
1. To distribute, through the media, all documents that the Cuban government has signed regarding human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to reform its laws to guarantee these rights to all citizens;
2. To cease the persecution, imprisonment, and exclusion of citizens who promote, defend, or exercise peacefully their universally-recognized human rights in Cuba, and to recognize in the law the organizations that serve these purposes in Cuba and who continue to be persecuted;
3. To free, immediately and unconditionally, all those imprisoned in Cuba for promoting, defending, and peacefully exercising human rights;
4. To cease the persecution of citizens who promote and support the Varela Project peacefully through the exercise of their constitutional rights. The Varela Project is an initiative that calls for a referendum for Cubans to decide on legal reforms that would guarantee the freedoms of expression and association, economic freedom, the freedom to elect their leaders democratically, and the freedom of those who are in prison for political reasons and who have not attempted harm on others. The Varela Project has been presented to the Cuban National Assembly of Popular Power with the signatures of over 25,000 Cubans who have risked or suffered persecution.
Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
Coordinator of the organizing committee of the Varela Project
Havana, December 3, 2008