Amnesty International Urges Cuba to Release Prisoner of Conscience on Hunger Strike

Press Release
March 11, 2011

Amnesty International Urges Cuba to Release Prisoner of Conscience on Hunger Strike

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release:
Friday, March 11, 2011

Amnesty International Urges Cuba to Release
Prisoner of Conscience on Hunger Strike

Contact:  Wende Gozan Brown, wgozan@aiusa.org, 212-633-4247

(London) - Amnesty International today called on Cuban authorities to release an activist on hunger strike who was detained for his human rights work three months ago and faces trial at the end of March.

Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, the president and co-founder of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, was arrested last December in relation to a meeting he organized at his home in August 2010 and for anti-government banners he displayed outside his home.

Néstor, his brother Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina and three other members of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy - Enyor Díaz Allen, Roberto González Pelegrín and Francisco Manzanet - have been charged with public order offenses relating to an attack on his home by a mob opposed to the meeting.  The five men were arrested in August 2010 and released the following month. Only Rodriguez Lobaina was arrested again.

“Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina has spent more than three months in prison for expressing his opinions, defending democracy and promoting human rights in Cuba. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience jailed solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and is calling on the Cuban authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, or bear the responsibility of the impact of the hunger strike on Néstor’s physical integrity,” said Gerardo Ducos of Amnesty International. "Néstor imprisonment is yet another example of the suppression of the rights to freedom of expression and association in Cuba."

Held at Combinado de Guantánamo prison, Rodríguez Lobaina started his hunger strike on February 15. The next day he was transferred to an isolation cell and denied water for eight days. Rodríguez Lobaina’s health deteriorated during his hunger strike and on February 28 he was transferred to a health post in the prison. He was then transferred to Augustino Neto Provincial Hospital on March 1.

Rodríguez Lobaina was arrested again by state security agents in Guantanamo on December 9, 2010. He was pepper sprayed and pushed roughly into a police car in front of his 10-year-old daughter who was left alone in the street as her father was taken into custody.  While in detention Néstor says he has suffered beatings and threats from other inmates.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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