Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ACTION ALERT: The Hunger Strike of Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Update 2: Orlando Zapata Tamayo passed away at the age of 42 early this afternoon. May he rest in peace.

Breaking Update: The latest reports from Orlando Zapata Tamayo's mother suggest that his life is in serious jeapordy. In an interview with Radio Martí, Reina Luisa Tamayo gave the following prognosis of her son's state, "I think we're going to lose Orlando Zapata. I think we're going to lose him." The latest from the Cuban Democratic Directorate, confirms these dire reports.

Please sign the petition asking for the release of Orlando Zapata Tamayo here.

And see below, for the contact information of Cuban government officials.

Background: Cuban prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo entered a hunger strike on December 3, 2009 after having been transferred to the Kilo 8 prison in the province of Camagüey, where a number of political prisoners have been held in recent months. According to reports from Luis Felipe Rojas, an independent blogger and journalist on the island, Zapata Tamayo was among the 75 dissidents arrested in the Black Spring of 2003, when he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Prior to being transferred to Camagüey, he had been held in his native province of Holguín.

Recent Developments: As of this writing, Zapata Tamayo is entering the 81st day of his hunger strike. Over the past few weeks, his health has deteriorated dramatically. He is currently in critical condition. Cuban authorities transferred Zapata Tamayo to a hospital in Havana, as the Amalia Simoni Hospital in Camagüey did not have the resources to treat him. There are more recent reports from the island confirming that he is in critical condition and on a medical ventilator. His mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger, has spoken out about the harsh treatment he has received and is asking for help from the international community.

Call to Action: The University of Miami's Cuban American Undergraduate Student Association has started a petition, calling on the Cuban government to release Orlando Zapata Tamayo from prison.

Please, take a few seconds to sign the petition, and stand up for the human rights of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. The link to the petition is here.

Please, also reach out to your local and national media and ask that they give due coverage to this story.

Contact Cuban government officials at the following numbers and addresses, and demand that they release Orlando Zapata Tamayo and respect his human rights:

Interior Minister

General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra

Ministro del Interior y Prisiones

Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba

+1 (212) 779-1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)

Cuban Interests Section
Jorge Bolaños Suarez
+1 (202) 797-8518

Attorney General

Dr Juan Escalona Reguera

Fiscal General de la República,

Fiscalía General de la República, San Rafael 3, La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +53 7 860 4268

Head of State and Government

Raúl Castro Ruz


La Habana, Cuba

Fax: +53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

+1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)

cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)

(Photo from Cuban Democratic Directorate archive)

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