Cuba: Cuban Authorities Urged To End Harrassment of Dead Activist's Family

Press Release
February 22, 2011

Cuba: Cuban Authorities Urged To End Harrassment of Dead Activist's Family

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CUBAN AUTHORITIES URGED TO END HARASSMENT OF DEAD ACTIVIST’S FAMILY

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

(London) - Amnesty International has urged Cuban authorities to stop harassing relatives of a human rights activist who died during a hunger strike last year.

Reina Luisa Tamayo, whose son Orlando Zapata Tamayo died at a Havana prison in February 2010, told Amnesty International she was arrested by state security agents who threatened to stop her and other mourners from commemorating the anniversary of Orlando’s death in church on February 23.

“The fact that the Cuban authorities have so far failed to initiate an investigation into Orlando’s death is outrageous and preventing his family from properly celebrating his life is a scandal,” said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

More than a dozen local security agents forcefully detained Tamayo, 72, her husband and another activist, Daniel Mesa, as they were walking around their village in Banes, north-west Cuba on Friday, February 18. Tamayo and her husband were released 12 hours later; Mesa was released two days later. Tamayo said the agents threatened to prevent her from leaving her home and going to the cemetery where her son is buried, in breach of her human rights.

“The recent releases of activists in Cuba, who shouldn’t have been put in prison in the first place, will only be meaningful once all activists are released and they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights work without fear of reprisals,” said Javier Zuñiga. “The harassment suffered by people like Orlando Tamayo’s relatives clearly goes to show that things still have not changed in Cuba and the authorities need to do much more to ensure human rights are a reality for all.”

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was arrested in March 2003 and sentenced to three years in prison in May 2004 for “disrespect,” “public disorder” and “resistance.” He was subsequently tried several times on further charges of “disobedience” and “disorder in a penal establishment” – most recently in May 2009 - and was serving a 36 year-sentence at the time of his death in prison.

Reina Tamayo said she intends to live in exile in the United States along with a number of her relatives, and has been granted all relevant documents by the US authorities. The Cuban government has yet to issue the necessary permits.

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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