Open Letter to the Directors of All Accredited Media in La Habana

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From #OZT: I Accuse the Cuban Government Campaign:

Dear Sir or Madam,

We write to you worried about the police and paramilitary harassment denounced from Banes ―a small town in the Cuban province of Holguín― by Reina Luisa Tamayo. She is the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo the prisoner of conscience who died on 23 February after a prolonged hunger strike that up to its tragic and fatal outcome had little coverage in the international press.

Every Sunday, we receive, mostly through phone interviews broadcast by the US-based Radio Martí, the same report from Reina Luisa describing how she is beaten, insulted and how [the government directed mob] prevents her from going to the town’s church to pray for her son and the health of all Cuban political prisoners still in jail. The repressive organs of the Cuban regime also impede her to visit her son’s tomb.

It is surprising to us that despite the wide coverage dedicated to Cuban topics, your organization has not reported on this. We know of the limitations to movement within Cuba, but we also understand that any foreign reporter has the means and resources to travel to the Eastern part of the island and give an eyewitness report of what happens there, in front of Reina Luisa Tamayo’s home.

We do not wish to tell the media what they should do, but to share with you our concern for the life of a woman who has lost her son in unjust circumstances and is clamoring for the world’s help to avoid more deaths.

We, the promoters of the #OZT: I accuse the Cuban government Campaign that demands the unconditional and immediate release of all peaceful political prisoners in Cuba and the respect of all Cubans’ human rights; write to you because we know that the international press in Cuba not only bears witness to what happens there, but can also help prevent and stop harassment incidents like those suffered by the Ladies in White in March of this year.

We would also like to know if there is any kind of legal hindrance or of any other sort that prevents your reporter in La Habana from traveling to other regions of Cuba.

We thank you in advance for your reply.

Sincerely,

#OZT: I accuse the Cuban government Campaign

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Cuban Martyr

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From his Wikipedia page, already updated:

Orlando Zapata Tamayo (? — February 23, 2010) was a Cuban mason, plumber, and democracy activist.[1]

He was a member of Movimiento Alternativa Republicana (“Alternative Republican Movement”) and Consejo Nacional de Resistencia Cívic (“National Civic Resistance Committee”).

He was once arrested for participating in a hunger strike organized by the Assembly to Promote a Civil Society in Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello‘s house.[1]

He was imprisoned on 20 March 2003 during the 2003 crackdown on dissidents. According to Amnesty International, he was charged with “desacato”, “desordenes publicos”, “public disorder”, and “desobediencia”. Amnesty International has recognized him as a prisoner of conscience.[2][1][3]

Orlando died February 23, 2010 in jail.

Here’s the entry from a 2007 Amnesty International report on Cuba:

At the end of the year, 69 prisoners of conscience continued to be held for their non-violent political views or activities. Twelve others continued to serve their sentences outside prison because of health concerns. No releases of prisoners of conscience were reported during the year.

• Orlando Zapata Tamayo was sentenced to three years in 2003 on charges of showing “contempt to the figure of Fidel Castro”, “public disorder” and “resistance”. In November 2005 he was reportedly sentenced to an additional 15 years for “contempt” and “resistance” in prison. In May 2006, he was again tried on the same charges and sentenced to an additional seven-year term. He was serving a prison sentence of 25 years and six months.

My condolences to his mother Reina Tamayo, his family and his friends.