Subject: Cuba: MEPs condemn "avoidable" death of Orlando Zapata
Cuba: MEPs condemn "avoidable" death of Orlando Zapata
Human rights - 11-03-2010 - 13:00
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The European Parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday strongly condemning the "avoidable and cruel" death of Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata and voicing its concern at the "alarming state" of another prisoner, Guillermo Fariñas. MEPs also repeat their call to the Cuban government for the "immediate and unconditional" release of all political prisoners and urge the EU to begin a "structured dialogue" with Cuban civil society.
Parliament, which approved the resolution by 509 votes to 30 with 14 abstentions, strongly condemns the "avoidable and cruel" death of political dissident Orlando Zapata, after a hunger strike of 85 days, and expresses its solidarity and sympathy with his family. MEPs also condemn the pre-emptive detention of activists and the government’s attempt to prevent the family of Orlando Zapata from holding his funeral and paying their last respects.
The resolution, which was tabled jointly by several political groups in Parliament - the EPP, Socialist, Liberal, Conservative and Reformist, Green and Europe of Freedom and Democracy - calls on the Cuban government for the "immediate and unconditional" release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and deplores the absence of any "significant signs" of response by the Cuban authorities to the calls by the EU and the international community for all political prisoners to be released and for fundamental freedoms to be fully respected.
MEPs also urge the Council and Commission to step up action to demand the release of political prisoners and safeguard the work of human rights defenders.
Dialogue with Cuban civil society
The resolution calls on the EU High Representative, Catherin Ashton, and Commissioner responsible for cooperation, Kristalina Georgieva, "immediately to begin a structured dialogue with Cuban civil society and with those who support a peaceful transition in Cuba". There are Community development cooperation mechanisms, such as the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, that could help achieve this.
Parliament also urges the EU institutions to give their unconditional support and full encouragement to the launching of a peaceful process of political transition to multi-party democracy in Cuba.
The plight of Guillermo Fariñas
In addition, Parliament voices concern at the situation of the political prisoners and dissidents who went on hunger strike following Zapata’s death and welcomes the fact that most of them are now taking food again. However, it draws attention to "the alarming state of the journalist and psychologist Guillermo Fariñas, whose continuation of the hunger strike could have fatal consequences".
Lastly, the resolution expresses solidarity with the entire Cuban people and support for them in their progress towards democracy and respect and promotion of fundamental freedoms.
Brian Lloyd French
I am a great admirer of the strength and talents of Cuban people and will share some of my experiences here.