Signs of Solidarity from Italy

In December 2010, the Italian doctor and Parliament member, Massimo Polledri, penned a letter to the Italian Foreign Relations Ministry so that Italian governors and politicians could join the efforts of the Freedom for Dr. Biscet Campaign.

Here is letter, translated into English:

URGENT.
TO THE ITLALIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN RELATIONS

Dr. Biscet is a Cuban doctor of the black race, leader of the peaceful movement of civil right who is struggling to establish a state based on fair laws in Cuba through non-violent civil disobedience. He is the president of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, an organization founded in 1997, which is considered illegal by the Cuban authorities.

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet was released from prison on October 31, 2002 after serving three years in a maximum security prison for peacefully protesting in favor to defend human rights. Thirty-six days after his release, he was arrested again in Havana when he was about to meet with a group of activists to discuss the subject of human rights. He was locked away in a cell with common criminals. While in prison, He was included in the repressive wave of the Cuban government carried out against 75 independent journalists, editors and human rights defenders, which took place between the months of March and April 2003. All were sentenced under rapid and unjust trials, and were imprisoned for terms up to 28 years.

Since 1998, this doctor has suffered physical and mental torture in various prisons for refusing to follow the disciplinary measures designed for the common prisoners. Dr. Biscet is a political prisoner of conscience and demands to be treated and considered as such. He is currently serving a combined 25 years in the Combinado del Este Prison, a maximum security prison in Havana.

Dr. Biscet is an example of human rights violations suffered by all those who dare to defend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Cuba.

Dr. Biscet has been arbitrarily imprisoned 26 times by the Cuban government in a matter of 16 months–from July 9, 1998 to November 3, 1999. He has been incarcerated in jails where depravation is rampant, he has been denied light and food, and has been mixed with prisoners who are either mentally insane or who are criminals. Most times the government has not informed the family of his situation.

Dr. Biscet was brought to trial on February 25, 2000 for announcing a peaceful march along with other human rights defenders which coincided with the Ibero-American Summit in Havana in 1999 where he gave a press conference in which the Cuban flag were exposed upside down as a protest for the human rights violations in Cuba. Dr. Biscet was accused of “dishonoring national symbols”, of”disorderly conduct” and of “incitement to criminal conduct “and was sentenced to three years in prison under these pretexts.
He was later moved 450 kilometers east of Havana to “Cuba Sí”, a maximum security prison in the province of Holguin, far away from his family.

Dr. Biscet served a sentence of three years in “Cuba Sí” and was released on October 31 2002 only to be arrested again on December 6, 2002, when he was about to meet with human rights activists with whom he wished to promote a project called “Club of Human Rights Friends.”

On April 7, 2003, Dr. Biscet was subjected to a trial along with 75 other activists and was sentenced to 25 years. He was transferred to “Kilo 8” prison in Pinar del Rio, where he was confined from November 13, 2003 to January 15, 2004 in a basement cell.

Since then, on December 1, 2004, Dr. Biscet was transferred to the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, where he is currently detained in inhumane conditions.

During all these years in prison, Dr. Biscet has refused to comply with any applicable rule or provision imposed by the penitentiary judges to common prisoners and not applicable to a political prisoner of conscience. For example, he refuses to wear the uniform of a common criminal and refuses to abide by the imposition of greeting prison officials. For this reason, the judicial authorities have violated his (supposedly) mnadatory rules of prison visits, have denied him the right to write to his family, and to receive or make phone calls.

Dr. Biscet is in a delicate state of health because he suffers from hypertension, chronic gastritis, cholesterol, and a gradual loss of vision, all of which he never previously before suffered from. The hygienic conditions in the prisons he has been in have caused him injury to his epidermal cells. He has also lost most of his teeth due to a severe gum disease that requires urgent treatment.

Dr. Biscet has won numerous awards in his fight for democracy. First, The U. S. International Republican Institute Award for Popular Democracy was given to him on February 5, 2003. In November 5, 2007, he was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. On December 12, 2007, Germany granted him the “Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt recognition”. Similarly, the Czech Embassy in Washington DC paid tribute to Dr. Biscet on February 27, 2008. The Life Science Association Pontremoli – Lunigiana (Italy) named a literary award in honor of Dr. Biscet.

Dr. Biscet is one of several Cuban political prisoners who will only accept an unconditional release and will never agree to go into forced exile. More than 50 political prisoners were released and deported to Spain during the months of July to October 2010 after the Catholic Church entered agreements with the Cuban government, achieving to release political prisoners only if they accepted exile. Many of the Cuban passports of these political prisoners and their families (children) have been printed by the Cuban government with the words “final exit” on them. These political prisoners have never been forgiven of the “crime” they never committed and the unjust sentences imposed by the Cuban courts have never been cleared.

So I ask:

Is the government following the situation of Dr. Biscet and other prisoners of conscience of the Castro regime? What steps can and should be taken at the international level to support the campaign for the release of Dr. Biscet and all those who, like him are fighting in Cuba in a non-violent way for the affirmation of fundamental rights and are paying first hand for this under the repression of Castro?

Deputy Massimo Polledri”

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