November 15, 1999

Urgent action appeal

12 November 1999

EXTRA 161/99 Prisoners of conscience / Arbitrary arrests


Dr. Oscar Elias BISCET GONZALEZ, human rights activist
Antonio ALONSO PEREZ, peasant leader
Ramon Humberto COLAS CASTILLO, independent librarian and political activist
Hector PALACIOS RUIZ, political activist
At least a dozen others

More than 20 dissidents arrested in the run up to the IX Ibero-American Summit in Havana on 15-16 November 1999 are still detained. Many more are currently under house arrest. After President Fidel Castro yesterday warned dissidents against organizing protests around the summit and said that nobody has impunity, Amnesty International is concerned that more will be arrested and that, under harsh new legislation aimed at silencing dissent, they face the prospect of long prison terms.

According to reports, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez, president of the Fundacion Lawton de Derechos Humanos, Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, and three others involved in organizing a protest march in the capital on 10 November, have been arrested. The place of detention of Dr. Biscet, whose arrest took place on 3 November, is not known. The march was prevented from taking place by government supporters who reportedly beat and kicked dissidents. Several protesters were also detained by State Security agents. The march was to protest alleged human rights abuses by the government and to ask for the release of political prisoners.

On 7 November, Antonio Alonso Perez, President of the Alianza Nacional de Agricultores Independientes, Association of Independent Farmers, was detained as he set out to participate in a congress of independent farmers in Matanzas province, to which Presidents and Chancellors attending the Ibero-American Summit had been invited. His brother was apparently told that he is under investigation.

Ramon Humberto Colas Castillo, a contributor to the independent press agency Cuba Press, an independent librarian and a member of the Partido Solidaridad Democratico (PSD), Democratic Solidarity Party, was detained on 8 November. Hector Palacios Ruiz, another PSD member, was detained on 12 November, the day he was due to participate in a meeting of dissidents.

The mothers of three political prisoners, who participated in a peaceful demonstration calling for the release of political prisoners, reportedly remain in detention following their arrest on 8 November.


Dr. Oscar Biscet is believed to have been detained more than a dozen times in the last year for his involvement in anti-government protests and meetings.

In August, Ramon Humberto Colas Castillo and his wife and two children were evicted from their home by the government. He was also temporarily arrested. He and his wife, Berta Mexidor, founded the first independent library in Cuba.

In 1997 Hector Palacios Ruiz served an 18 month prison sentence for 'disrespect'.

In February this year, Cuba's National Assembly passed tough new legislation (Law 88) aimed at combating political dissent. Under the 'Ley de Proteccion de la Independencia Nacional y la Economia de Cuba', 'Law for the Protection of the National Independence and Economy of Cuba', dissidents and journalists deemed to be working against the state risk 20 years' imprisonment.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail letters:

- expressing concern, in the run up to the Ibero-American Summit, at the arrests of more than two dozen dissidents;

- urging that all those still detained in connection with the summit be released unless charged with a recongizably criminal offence;

- requesting that Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez, Antonio Alonso Perez, Ramon Humberto Colas Castillo and Hector Palacios Ruiz be immediately and unconditionally released on the grounds that they are prisoners of conscience detained solely for peacefully attempting to exercise their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly;

- urging that all those detained be granted immediate access to lawyers of their choosing.


Dr Juan Escalona Reguera
Fiscal General de la Republica
Fiscalia General de la Republica
San Rafael 3, La Habana, Cuba
Telegrams: Fiscal General, Havana, Cuba
Telexes: 307 511456 fisge
Faxes: 011 53 7 57 07 95
Salutation: Sr Fiscal General / Dear Attorney General

Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Sr. Felipe Perez Roque
Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Calzada No. 360, Vedado
La Habana, Cuba
Telegrams: Ministro Relaciones Exteriores, Havana, Cuba
Telexes: 307 511122 / 511464 / 512950
Faxes: 011 53 7 335261 / 33 3085 / 33 3460
Salutation: Senor Ministro / Dear Minister

Minister of the Interior:
General Abelardo Colome Ibarra
Ministro de Interior
Ministerio del Interior
Plaza de la Revolucion
La Habana, Cuba
Telegrams: Ministro Interior, Havana, Cuba
Faxes: 011 53 7 335261
Salutation: Senor Ministro / Dear Minister


National Union of Jurists:
Union Nacional de Juristas
Apartado 4161
La Habana 4, Cuba

Editor of Granma (daily newspaper):
Sr Jacinto Granda de Laserna
Apdo 6260
La Habana, Cuba

Cuba has no embassy in the US at present. to contact its interest in the US, write

Cuban Interests Section
Mr. Fernando Remirez de Estenoz
2630 - 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Please send appeals immediately. Check with the Colorado office between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, Mountain Time, weekdays only, if sending appeals after November 26, 1999.

This information is from Amnesty International's research headquarters in London, England. A.I. is an independent worldwide movement working for the international protection of human rights. It seeks the release of people detained because of their beliefs, color, sex, ethnic origin, language or religious creed, provided they have not used nor advocated violence. These are termed prisoners of conscience. It works for fair and prompt trials for all political prisoners and works on behalf of such people detained without charge or trial. It opposes the death penalty, extra-judicial executions (political killings), 'disappearances' and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of all prisoners without reservation. Amnesty International promotes awareness of and adherance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognized human rights instruments, the values enshrined in them and the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights and freedoms.

Please do not repost this appeal to any part of the Internet without prior permission from Amnesty International. Thank you for your help with this appeal.

Please read the monthly Urgent Action Network Newsletter posted on the web at:

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
PO Box 1270
Nederland CO 80466-1270
Phone: 303 258 1170
Fax: 303 258 7881



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