Today Is “World Press Freedom Day”

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Journalists In need of help from around the world

A reminder from Amnesty International:

World Press Freedom Day (May 3) provides an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate the fundamental human right to freedom of expression, defend the media from attacks on their independence and honor the memory of journalists who have lost their lives because of the peaceful exercise of their right to speak and write freely.

Amnesty International works to protect journalists from harassment and death threats, free them from arbitrary detention and guarantee them their right to freedom of expression. TAKE ACTION now on behalf of these journalists around the world.

A Few Ladies (Dressed) in White Threaten to Topple Military Regime

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From Amnesty, UK:

Amnesty International has urged Cuban President Raúl Castro to ensure the safety of a group of female relatives of prisoners of conscience ahead of a scheduled demonstration today (18 March).

The call came after a protest by the Damas de Blanco (‘Ladies in White’) was forcibly broken up by Cuban police on Wednesday 17 March, who briefly detained several women.

After the incident, some of the women said they had been beaten by the police. They include Reyna Tamayo, mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died on 22 February 2010, having spent several weeks on hunger strike to demand the release of prisoners of conscience.

There’s more…

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.


Good News, from the Death Penalty Abolition Campaign

Here’s the kind of email that reaffirms my belief in miracles (and in perseverance!):

Dear Jesus Maria,

Just hours ago, we heard big news that proves that miracles do happen!

The U.S. Supreme Court granted Troy Davis the chance to finally present crucial evidence in court that may prove his innocence.

Until now, Troy has been denied the opportunity to present all the facts supporting his case. But after a 6-2 ruling from the nation’s highest court, Troy will get that chance at justice we’ve been fighting for since day one.

The power that we’ve seen building behind Troy’s case is awe-inspiring. Your heart-felt emails, letters, phone calls and actions are opening doors that many said were shut for good.

It’s working. But we won’t stop pushing until Troy Davis is granted clemency!

Right now, Troy Davis sits on death row. So keep telling his story to those who haven’t heard it. Keep hoping for more miracles, because given today’s news, it’s clear – anything is possible!

We can’t say it enough – thank you,

Laura Moye
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign

Here’s some context about the case:

Troy Davis

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