Imprisoned Cuban dissident rapper ‘El Osorbo’ sews mouth shut in protest

Subjected to inhumane conditions and constant harassment and threats in a Cuban gulag, imprisoned dissident rapper Maykel “El Osorbo” Castillo has sewn his mouth shut in protest of the communist Castro dictatorship.

Via PEN America:

Imprisoned Cuban Artist and Activist Maykel ‘Osorbo’ Castillo Pérez Sews His Mouth Shut to Protest Threats and Harassment

Artists Has Been Subject to Punishment, Solitary Confinement, Delays in Medical Attention, and Threats from Other Prisoners

The Artist at Risk Connection and PEN International today called for the immediate and unconditional release from prison of Cuban artist Maykel “Osorbo” Castillo Pérez, who has tattooed the words “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life) on his arm and sewn his mouth shut to protest the ongoing harassment and threats he has experienced in Kilo 5 y Medio, a maximum-security prison in Cuba.

The news of Maykel’s protest was first shared on Maykel’s profile on Facebook on Wednesday by Anamely Ramos, an academic, art curator, and activist. Maykel has been imprisoned since 2021, unjustly sentenced to nine years for his leadership of pro-democracy activism on the island. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that he is being held under arbitrary detention in violation of international human rights standards.

Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) Director Julie Trébault said: “Maykel Castillo has endured unrelenting and unfair treatment and we are deeply concerned about his well-being in light of the extreme measures he has taken to protest the constant harassment he faces in prison.”

Maykel Castillo has been subject to punishment cells, suspension of regular and conjugal visits, periods of solitary confinement, delays in providing him necessary medical attention, threats from other inmates, and constant visits from state security, among other acts.

“Maykel’s prolonged imprisonment exemplifies the Cuban government’s cruel and ruthless tactics to suppress dissent and suffocate artistic freedom and freedom of expression in Cuba,” said Trébault.

Ma Thida, chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, said: “Maykel Castillo Pérez is unjustly imprisoned for exercising his right to free expression, for writing a song, for criticizing his country’s government. His case is emblematic of the situation faced by independent artists, writers, journalists, and human rights defenders in Cuba. It is a tragedy for the world that he has decided to sew his mouth because of this repression and the poor conditions in prison. Maykel must be released immediately.”

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