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I would like to bring to your attention the case of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an imprisoned Cuban and human rights advocate. On a hunger strike since December 3, 2009, for purely requesting some of his most basic human rights, it appears Zapata Tamayo is on the brink of death, and we are requesting he receive the best medical attention possible immediately.
I am deeply concerned by recent reports of the substandard conditions of medical attention that Zapata Tamayo has received, as well as the conditions of his detention. He was reportedly deprived of water for 16 days by prison officials.
I strongly urge you to order the release of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and all other individuals who have been arrested and convicted on the basis of their peaceful political activities and their efforts to promote and protect basic human rights in Cuba.
According to the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which Cuba actively participated in drafting and passing, all persons have the right to effective access to participation in the government of their country and in the conduct of public affairs. The Declaration also provides that everyone has the right “freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” The important work of Cuban human rights defenders should be recognized by the government and they should be supported rather than persecuted.
While they remain in detention, I urge you to ensure that Orlando Zapata Tamayo is not subjected to further abuse and that his conditions of detention meet basic international standards. International human rights law requires that all persons held in detention are treated with humanity and dignity and that they are not subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The Cuban government should ensure the application of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons Under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, which further elaborate the basic standards to be achieved in ensuring respect for the rights of detainees.
I will continue to monitor these cases closely and appreciate your immediate attention to this important matter.
We, CAUSA: Cubans United for a Free Cuba, call on the Cuban government to release Orlando Zapata Tamayo from prison.