Amnesty International Urgent Action: Cuban opposition activist Jorge Cervantes placed in maximum security prison

Via Amnesty International:


After ending a reported 39-day hunger strike, Cuban opposition activist Jorge Cervantes, allegedly detained for contempt in May, was transferred to a maximum security prison. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Jorge Cervantes García, a member of the political opposition group the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU), was detained on 23 May in Las Tunas, central-eastern Cuba. Weeks before, UNPACU published on its YouTube channel a video called “Horrors in jail” in which Jorge Cervantes interviewed a man who had allegedly been ill-treated in a Cuban prison, and a series of shorter videos which allege corruption by public officials in Cuba. According to Gretchen Alfonso Torres, his wife, on 22 May she and Jorge Cervantes filed a report with the military prosecutor (fiscalía militar) to denounce that members of the state security agency searched their home and took some of their belongings. The following day, Cuban authorities detained Jorge Cervantes.

Jorge Cervantes’ family has not received any official documents setting out the charges against him, but were verbally informed that he is charged with contempt (desacato) and resistance (resistencia). Both provisions of the Criminal Code are frequently used in charges against human rights defenders and political activists in an attempt to stifle free speech, peaceful assembly and association in Cuba. According to his family, Jorge Cervantes was initially held in a police station and later moved to Potosi prison, north of Las Tunas. After refusing to wear the official prison uniform, his family say he was held for at least 20 days in solitary confinement without clothes, until being transferred to a hospital where he remained under detention.

Amnesty International was informed that on 1 July, Jorge Cervantes suspended a reported hunger strike after 39 days. On 3 July, doctors informed his wife that he had been transferred to the Combinado del Este prison, a maximum security prison on the outskirts of Havana, over 600km away from his family in Las Tunas. Authorities informed his family that he had been transferred because his kidneys were failing, and he would receive better medical attention in the Combinado del Este prison. Doctors have kept his family verbally informed of his health condition, but the family says that they have never received official medical documents.