UK Liberty

Extraordinary Early Day Motion

Posted in politicians on liberty by ukliberty on February 28, 2008

EDM 982 – 72 signatures so far:

Burgon, Colin

That this House commends the achievements of Fidel Castro in securing first-class free healthcare and education provision for the people of Cuba despite the 44 year illegal US embargo of the Cuban economy; notes the great strides Cuba has taken during this period in many fields such as biotechnology and sport in both of which Cuba is a world leader; acknowledges the esteem in which Castro is held by the people and leaders of Africa, Asia and Latin America for leading the calls for emancipation of the world’s poorest people from slavery, hunger and the denial of human rights such as the right to life, the right to shelter, the right to healthcare and basic medicines and the right to education; welcomes the EU statement that constructive engagement with Cuba at this time is the most responsible course of action; and calls upon the Government to respect Cuba’s right to self-determination and resist the aggressive forces within the US Administration who are openly planning their own illegal transition in Cuba.

And presumably for making the trains run on time.

On the other hand, the EDM does not note that Cuba retains the death penalty nor the following:

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.

Scores of people continued to be held without charge on suspicion of counter-revolutionary activities or on unclear charges. Their legal status remained unclear at the end of the year.

• Prisoner of conscience Oscar Mariano González Pérez, an independent journalist who was arrested in July 2005 as he was about to take part in a demonstration in front of the French embassy, remained in detention without charge or trial.

Severe restrictions on freedom of expression and association persisted. All print and broadcast media remained under state control. There was a rise in the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists and librarians. People suspected of links with dissident groups or involved in promoting human rights were arrested and detained. There was an increase in arrests on charges of “pre-criminal dangerousness”. Access to the Internet remained severely limited outside governmental offices and educational institutions. Journalist Guillermo Fariñas staged a seven-month hunger strike to obtain access to the Internet, without success.

• Armando Betancourt Reina, a freelance journalist, was arrested on 23 May as he took notes and photographs of evictions from a house in the city of Camagüey. He was charged with public disorder. Armando Betancourt was reportedly held incommunicado for a week at the police station before being transferred to Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey on 6 June. He was awaiting trial at the end of the year.

There was an increase in the public harassment and intimidation of human rights activists and political dissidents by quasi-official groups in so-called acts of repudiation.

• Juan Carlos González Leiva, President of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, was reportedly the target of several “acts of repudiation” – involving government supporters reportedly acting with the collusion of the authorities – at his home in the city of Ciego de Avila. He and his family were repeatedly threatened by demonstrators. Juan Carlos González Leiva, who is blind, was arrested in March 2002 for “disrespect”, “public disorder”, “resistance” and “disobedience” and spent two years in prison without trial. In April 2004 he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, to be served at his home.

• Cuba: Fundamental freedoms still under attack (AI Index: AMR 25/001/2006)

• Cuba: Fear for safety/Fear of torture/intimidation/harassment – Miguel Valdés Tamayo and Juan Carlos González Leiva (AI Index: AMR 25/002/2006)

– Amnesty International

Perhaps Colin Burgon et al are envious of the Castro regime?

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