Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cuban dissident on hunger strike was sent back to prison

Posted on Tuesday, 08.27.13

Cuban dissident on hunger strike was sent back to prison

A Cuban dissident who declared a hunger strike four weeks ago to protest
his arrest, trial and conviction — all in just three days — is suffering
from bouts of dizziness and other health problems, opposition activists
said Tuesday.

Iván Fernández Depestre was transferred from the Guamajal prison to the
Arnaldo Milian Hospital in Santa Clara earlier this month because of the
effects of his protest, said Santa Clara dissident Damarys Moya.

Other opposition activists who visited him Monday in the hospital said
he looked extremely thin and complained of bouts of dizziness, high
blood pressure and stomach and joint pains, Moya said.

She added that Fernández told her in an earlier phone conversation that
a prison official had warned him that as soon as he was discharged from
the hospital he would be sent to the isolation wing of the Guamajal prison.

A nurse at the hospital told her on Tuesday that Fernández was
discharged at 10 p.m. Monday and was taken away by prison officials,
Moya told El Nuevo Herald by phone from Santa Clara.

"They returned him to the prison because they want to hide him in the
prison, in case he dies," said another Santa Clara dissident, Loreto
Hernández. 'We fear for his life."

Fernández, who is about 40 years old and an activist in the Orlando
Zapata National Civic Resistance Front, was arrested July 30 during an
opposition march in his hometown of Placetas near Santa Clara, according
to Cuban Democratic Directorate.

He was tried on Aug. 2 for "pre-criminal dangerousness," a catch-all
charge often used by prosecutors against dissidents, and was sentenced
to two years in prison, the Miami-based directorate reported.

Fernández launched his hunger strike on the very day of his arrest, but
his protest did not become public until Aug. 19, according to the
dissidents in Santa Clara.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, issued a statement Tuesday
branding Fernández's imprisonment as "unjust" and "outrageous" and
saying that she is concerned about his deteriorating health.

"The international community must express solidarity with the 11 million
Cubans oppressed by the Castros and it must demand the immediate release
of not only Iván but all those innocent Cubans being held unjustly in
Castro's gulags," Ros-Lehtinen added.

Source: "Cuban dissident on hunger strike was sent back to prison - Cuba
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