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Cuba4 September 2006

Prison guards beat journalist for insisting on right to make phone calls

Independent journalist Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta was severely beaten on 29 August by two guards in Kilo 8 prison in the central city of Camagüey, where he is serving a 20-year prison sentence. He was attacked when he reiterated a demand to be allowed to make a phone call - a right that is routinely denied him. The two guards, identified as Maikel Zuñiga and Nelson Domenech, suddenly threw him to the ground without any explanation, hit him and dragged him along the prison’s corridors. He was injured in one eye and sustained many bruises. Herrera has been in prison since the March 2003 crackdown.

29.03.06 - Herrera hospitalized, suspends hunger strike

Imprisoned independent journalist Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta of the Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental (APLO) yesterday suspended his hunger strike after being rushed to the Amalia Simoni provincial hospital in the eastern city of Camagüey.

Herrera, who had been on hunger strike for 23 days in Camagüey’s Kilo 8 prison, said the medical treatment he was receiving was poor. He is suffering from headaches and stomach pains, and has lost a lot of weight. He added that he intended to resume his hunger strike as soon as he is better.

Herrera’s demands are a transfer to the prison in the eastern city of Guantánamo, where he is from, the ability to attend religious services and permission to receive letters from his family.

27.03.06 - Call for humanitarian gesture towards two journalists on hunger strike

Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today about the state of health of two imprisoned journalists who are on hunger strike, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta and Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, calling for a humanitarian gesture from the Cuban authorities and for foreign embassies in Havana to intercede.

“How are we to interpret this indifference about the slow death of two individuals who are just demanding the right to express their views and surf the Internet freely,” the press freedom organisation said. “And what danger could possibly come from two people who are so physically and mentally debilitated?”

Reporters Without Borders added : “The silence from the authorities could reinforce the feeling of many prisoners and dissidents that they have nothing to lose, and could thereby encourage more hunger strikes. We reiterate our appeal to the Cuban government for clemency and we urge the foreign embassies in Havana to monitor the cases of Herrera and Fariñas closely.”

Herrera, who has been on a hunger strike for 22 days in his prison cell in Kilo 8 prison in the eastern city of Camagüey, sowed up his mouth in a new gesture of protest on 23 March, the Miami-based website Cubanet reported. According to Juan Carlos González Leyva, the head of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, Herrera did this after being badly beaten by guards for two days running, on 21 and 22 March.

Herrera, who worked for an independent news agency called the Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental (APLO), is serving a 20-year prison sentence which he received after being arrested in the March 2003 crackdown. Held in solitary confinement, he has for some time suffered from high blood pressure and gastritis, but he has not been getting appropriate treatment.

Dr. Julio Sánchez Hernández of an independent medical institute in the central province of Santa Clara told Cubanet on 19 March that Fariñas’s condition has got much worse and that he was very concerned and pessimistic about his chances of survival. Fariñas is suffering from bouts of fever, violent migraines and loss of feeling in his legs.

He first began refusing to eat and drink on 31 January to demand Internet access for all Cubans but there have been periods when his hunger strike was interrupted while he received treatment.

In this country
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Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
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24 February - Cuba
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in the annual report
Cuba - Annual Report 2008
Cuba - Annual report 2007
Cuba - Annual report 2006

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Americas press releases
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