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Cuba10 November 2003

No visits for waiting wives of imprisoned journalists and dissidents

The five wives and one mother of the six journalists and dissidents on hunger strike in Holguín prison gave up their wait outside the prison gates on 7 November after spending two days there asking in vain to be allowed to see their loved-ones, who began their protest on 18 October.

A prison official told them the hunger-strikers would not be allowed any contact with their families as long as they continued their undisciplined behaviour. He advised the six women to go home and said some of the prisoners might call them in a few days. The women have had no information about their state of health or the conditions in which they are being held since the start of the hunger strike.

The same prison official also revealed that journalist Mario Enrique Mayo, one of the six hunger strikers, was transferred to Mar Verde prison in the far-eastern province of Santiago de Cuba on 8 November. He refused to say why Mayo was moved, which suggests it was a punishment. Mayo had succeeded in getting information about the hunger strike smuggled out of the prison a week earlier.

7.11.2003 - Wives of detainees on hunger strike stage overnight protest outside prison

Reporters Without Borders today called on the authorities of Holguín prison to allow six detained independent journalists and dissidents who are on hunger strike to receive visits immediately from their wives - or in one case, mother - who have reportedly been waiting outside the prison since yesterday to see them.

The wives went to the prison because they had received no word of their husbands, who began their hunger strike on 18 October. Reporters Without Borders reiterated its concern about the hunger strikers’ health.

According to Joana Fernández, the daughter of one of the hunger strikers, journalist Adolfo Fernández Sainz, the five wives and one mother went to Holguín prison in eastern Cuba yesterday morning to demand to see their detained loved-ones.

When the prison authorities refused to allow any visits or to receive them as a group, they decided to remain outside the prison gate and were still there at 7:00 am (local time) today. The hunger strikers meanwhile managed to let them know they were aware of their presence outside the prison.

The six women are Julia Núñez, Sainz’s wife; Gisela Sánchez, the wife of Antonio Ramón Diaz Sánchez; Bertha Soler, the wife of Angel Moya Acosta; Asunción, the mother of journalist Iván Hernández Carrillo; Maydelin Guerra, the wife of journalist Mario Enrique Mayo; and Melba Santana, the wife of Alfredo Domínguez Batista.

According to the relatives of fellow inmates, Hernández Carrillo of the independent news agency Patria was placed in a "punishment cell" on 17 October for protesting against the refusal of the prison authorities to allow him the treatment he needs for high blood pressure.

(JPEG) The six other prisoners of conscience in the prison began a hunger strike the next day to demand an end to the Hernández Carrillo’s punishment. Two of them are independent journalists. They are Sainz (photo), who worked for Patria and was a correspondent for the Russian human rights news agency PRIMA News, and Mayo, who was with the Félix Varela news agency. Sainz was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Mayo was sentenced to 20 years.

The other dissidents on hunger strike - Díaz, Domínguez and Moya, and Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique - are serving sentences of 20, 14, 20 and 18 years respectively. Hernández Carrillo is himself also on hunger strike.

See the previous press release

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