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UA 354/92 - Cuba: prisoner of conscience / health concern / fear of ill- treatment / hunger-strike: Luis Alberto Pita Santos, Arturo Suarez Ramos, Jorge Kerr Mitchell

, N° d'index: AMR 25/027/1992

Three political prisoners, one of them a prisoners of conscience, are reported to be in poor health as a result of being on hunger-strike. Luis Alberto Pita Santos, president of the unofficial Asociacion Defensora de los Derechos Politicos, and Arturo Suarez Ramos, serving 30 years for attempted hijacking, went on hunger-strike, probably in protest at being moved to Boniato Prison, almost 1000 km from their families. Both were reportedly beaten by prison guards because of their protest. Jorge Kerr, apparently convicted of sabotage, has reportedly been on several hunger- strikes in Pinar del Rio Provincial Prison in an attempt to be transferred back to prison in Havana. It is not clear what, if any, medical attention the prisoners have received.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 25/27/92
Distr: UA/SC
This is a limited action - please send up to twenty appeals per section
UA 354/92 Prisoner of Conscience/Health Concern/ 12 November 1992
Fear of Ill-treatment/Hunger Strike
CUBA: Luis Alberto PITA SANTOS, prisoner of conscience
Arturo SUAREZ RAMOS, political prisoner
Jorge KERR MITCHELL, political prisoner
Amnesty International is concerned about the state of health of three political
prisoners, one of whom is a prisoner of conscience. According to reports, Luis Alberto
Pita Santos and Arturo Suárez Ramos, both of whom are currently being held in Boniato
Prison in Santiago de Cuba, are in poor health as a result of having been on hunger
strike. It is also alleged that both have been beaten by prison guards because of
their protest although the precise circumstances of such beatings are not yet known.
It is not clear why the two have been on hunger strike but it is thought that they
may have at least in part been protesting their recent transfer from prisons near
Havana, from where both come, to Boniato Prison, almost 1,000 kilometres from their
families.
Amnesty International is also concerned about the situation of Jorge Kerr Mitchell
who is currently held in Pinar del Río Provincial Prison, commonly known as "Kilo
5½". He has reportedly undertaken several hunger strikes in an attempt to be
transferred back to Combinado del Este Prison in Havana where he was originally held.
As a result of the hunger strikes, he is said to have lost movement in both his
legs.
It is not clear what medical attention, if any, these three prisoners have received.
Luis Alberto Pita Santos is President of the unofficial Asociación Defensora de
los Derechos Políticos (ADDEPO), Association for the Defence of Political Rights.
He was arrested on 9 October 1991. He was brought to trial in April 1992 on charges
of desacato, disrespect, asociación ilícita, illegal association, and clandestinidad
de impresos, clandestine printing, and sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely
on account of his peaceful and legitimate political activities.
Arturo Suárez Ramos is serving a 30-year sentence for his participation in an attempt
to hi-jack a Cuban Airlines plane in 1987 in which several passengers were injured
by hand grenades. He was originally condemned to death but had his sentence commuted
on appeal.
Little information is known about Jorge Kerr Mitchell. He is believed to be about
25 years old and to have been arrested in 1990 accused of sabotage. His sentence
is not known.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International has consistently received reports that some prison guards
regularly use excessive violence against prisoners. While in some instances the
prisoners may themselves have behaved violently, many reports suggest that the attacks
by guards are unprovoked and that in some cases the detainee is beaten while handcuffed
or tied up. Such treatment is tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
and, in some isolated cases, torture. For example, in January 1991, three political
prisoners who were on hunger strike were reportedly held for more than seventeen
days with their arms outstretched and chained to the iron bars of their cells. Two
of them were beaten at least three times while in chains. Political prisoners in
Cuba frequently undertake hunger strikes, often also refusing to wear their prison
uniform, to protest about their treatment or to make their political views known.
While Amnesty International takes no position on hunger strikes as such, the
organization believes that in some cases the Cuban authorities have taken unacceptable
measures to force those on hunger strike to give up their protests, including
witholding drinking water and medical attention.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/express and airmail letters
either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern at reports that Luis Alberto Pita Santos and Arturo Suárez
Ramos are in poor health in Boniato Prison, both as the result of having undertaken
hunger strikes and from beatings by prison guards;
- urging that a thorough investigation be carried out into the reports of
ill-treatment and those responsible be brought to justice;
- expressing concern at reports that Jorge Kerr Mitchell, currently held in Kilo
5½ Prison, has lost movement in both legs as the result of hunger strikes;
- urging that all three immediately be given all necessary medical attention and
be permitted visits from their relatives;
- urging the immediate and unconditional release of Luis Alberto Pita Santos on
the grounds that he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely because of his
non-violent political beliefs.
APPEALS TO
For all three prisoners:
1) Attorney General:
Dr Ramón de la Cruz Ochoa Salutation: Señor Fiscal General /
Fiscal General de la República Dear Attorney General
Fiscalía General de la República
San Rafael 3
Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba
Telegrams: Fiscal General, Havana, Cuba
Telexes: 511456 fisge
2) Minister of the Interior:
General Abelardo Colomé Ibarra Salutation: Señor Ministro /
Ministro del Interior Dear Minister
Ministerio del Interior
Plaza de la Revolución
Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba
Telegrams: Ministro Interior, Havana, Cuba
Telexes: 511122 / 511464 / 512950 [Ministry of Foreign Affairs - asking
them to pass the message on to the Minister of the Interior]
For Luis Alberto Pita Santos and Arturo Suarez Ramos only:
3) Director of Boniato Prison:
Señor Director Salutation: Señor Director /
Prisión de Boniato Dear Sir
Apartado 5007
Puerto Boniato
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Telegrams: Director, Prisión Boniato, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
For Jorge Kerr Mitchell only:
4) Director of Kilo 5½ Prison:
Mayor Eumelio González Rodríguez Salutation: Señor Director /
Director Dear Sir
Prisión Provincial de Pinar del Río
Carretera de Pinar del Río a Luis Lazo
Pinar del Río, Cuba
Telegrams: Director, Prisión Kilo 5½, Pinar del Río, Cuba
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Newspaper:
Granma
Apartado 6260
Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba
Information Bureau of Human Rights
Movement in Cuba
807 S.W. 25th Ave., Suite 210
Miami FL 33135, USA
and to diplomatic representatives of Cuba accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your
section office, if sending appeals after 23 December 1992.

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