Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mother of dead Cuban prisoner of conscience prevented from attending church

Mother of dead Cuban prisoner of conscience prevented from attending church

Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling on the Cuban government to
allow Reina Luis Tamayo Danger, the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo who
died in Cuban prison earlier this year, to attend religious services and
to cease their harassment of Tamayo Danger and her family.

Since the beginning of August, on consecutive Sundays, State Security
agents and other pro-government members of the community in the town of
Banes have physically blocked the road taken by Tamayo Danger on her way
to church, preventing her from attending Sunday Mass and visiting the
cemetery where her son is buried.

Video footage sent out of Cuba shows a line of men in uniform
interlocking arms across a dirt road, standing face to face with a small
group of women accompanying Tamayo Danger. The women are part of a
larger movement across the island known as the Ladies in White, made up
of wives and mothers of prisoners of conscience. A crowd of people
chants pro-government slogans and shouts obscenities at the women who
stand in front of them, unable to pass.

According to Tamayo Danger, for over five months she and her family have
been subjected to acts of intimidation from government officials,
including verbal abuse and threats of violence. Her weekly attendance at
Mass at the La Caridad Catholic Church has been particularly targeted.
She says, however, that the violence and intimidation is no longer
confined to Sundays.

Tamayo Danger requested that the international media to come to Banes to
cover the situation. CSW is calling on representatives of European
embassies in Cuba to go to Banes to investigate these threats and show
solidarity with her.

CSW's National Director Stuart Windsor says, "No one should be subjected
to these tactics of intimidation simply because they are attempting to
attend a weekly religious service, a right enjoyed by religious
believers across Cuba. We are calling on the Cuban government to cease
its harassment of Mrs Tamayo Danger immediately and to allow her to
attend Mass and visit her son's grave without hindrance."
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri
Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20
8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663 or email
CSW is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious
freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs
and promotes religious liberty for all.
Notes to Editors:

1. Orlando Zapata Tamayo was one of 75 prisoners of conscience arrested
and imprisoned in March 2003 in a wave of political repression now known
as the Black Spring. He went on hunger strike in at the end of 2009 to
protest prison conditions. He died in February 2010 after prison
officials denied him water for eighteen days, leading to kidney failure,
and withheld medical treatment until it was too late. There was an
international outcry following his death and he has since become a
symbol for dissident groups across the island.

2. Video footage of the events in Banes can be found on Youtube:
The footage in this link is freely available to the public. CSW does not
take responsibility for the content provided therein. Any views
expressed on the website do not reflect those of CSW of its staff.

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