Thursday, January 19, 2012

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER DIES AFTER BEING SUBJECTED TO CRUEL AND DEGRADING TREATMENT WHILE ON A HUNGER STRIKE IN PRISON


Peaceful Resistance Movement urgently requests world solidarity for the memory of Wilman Villar Mendoza

January 20, 2012
 
Cuban human rights defender, Wilman Villar Mendoza, who had been admitted in critical state to the Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital in Santiago de Cuba on January 14 following a 50 day hunger strike (begun November 25, 2012), died on the evening of Thursday, January 18, 2012 of a multiple organ failure and a generalized sepsis.

Wilman Villar Mendoza, who was 31 years old and a member of the human rights group UMPACU (Union Patriotica de Cuba) began a hunger strike in the Prison of Aguadores on November 25, 2011 to protest the false accusations that led to his unjust incarceration and to demand his unconditional freedom. Wilmar was beaten and arrested following a public peaceful protest in the eastern town of Contramaestre on November 14, 2011, and sentenced in a trial he called a “judicial farce” to four years in prison. He was charged with “refusing to obey an official” (desacato), “resistance” (resistencia), and “assault” (atentado).

As most members of the peaceful resistance movement in the island, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of UMPACU, holds the Cuban government directly responsible for the demise of this peaceful human rights defender.  Numerous activists across Cuba declared themselves in mourning and said this sad event unites them even more to continue defending the cause of human rights in Cuba.

The death of Wilman Villar Mendoza did not come about fortuitously nor is it an isolated case. The same terror tactics of mental and physical torture to subdue a political prisoner that have been systematically applied in Cuban prisons and which were applied to Orlando Zapata Tamayo, (who died on February 23, 2010 following a prolonged hunger strike) were also practiced on Wilman:

·         Accused of being a common criminal
·         Isolated in a humid punishment cell
·         Confined naked
·         Deprived of water and medical assistance
·         Transferred to a medical facility once he is in a critical state of health

Wilmar’s widow, Maritza Pelegrino Cabrales, who is a “Lady in White”, is presently being denied access to her husband’s body and the Cuban government has unleashed a wave of repression throughout Cuba as members of the peaceful resistance movement are trying to pay their last respects to their compatriot. The Juan Bruno Zayas Hospital is surrounded by military guards. Liudmila Rodriguez Palomo reported that State Security agents in patrol cars, carrying sticks and stones, violently arrested activists in the Eastern city of Palma Soriano. The house of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez and his wife, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera in the Central city of Placetas is surrounded by State Security agents.

For months, the Coalition of Cuban-American Women has been alerting the international community that the lives of those human rights defenders who are publicly struggling on behalf of fundamental freedoms in Cuba are in danger. We urgently call on religious, civic, political and cultural entities and its leaders, as well as the media and the non-governmental human rights organizations worldwide, to recognize and display their solidarity on behalf of these men and women who are sacrificing their lives for the cause of human rights in Cuba.

Coalition of Cuban-American Women / Joseito76@aol.com / Laida A.Carro
FURTHER INFORMATION IN CUBA:  Berta Soler  +5352906820 / José Daniel Ferrer – + 53 53631267 / Maritza Pelegrino Cabrales  + 5353842338  /  Iris T. Perez Aguilera +5352417749  / Jose Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez” +5352731656

We failed Wilmar Villar Mendoza

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." - Elie Wiesel
 

We failed Wilmar Villar Mendoza. We didn't speak out in time and now we can only join the chorus denouncing his death. Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel once observed:  "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." 

Wilmar Villar Mendoza was unjustly imprisoned and then allowed to die by the Castro regime on January 19, 2012 because he was not known internationally. Like Orlando Zapata Tamayo who died after beatings, torture and unjust imprisonment drove him to a hunger strike and further mistreatment that led to his death on February 23, 2010 international media and diplomatic channels ignored his plight.

Dissidents march peacefully and protest in public spaces in Cuba and are beaten down and detained by State Security often times only social media (bloggers and twitterers) cover their plight. As part of a new generation of activists we have to do better and remain engaged with the men and women risking everything in Cuba for the Cuban people.

Our prayers and condolences for Wilmar Villar Mendoza, his wife Maritza and their two daughters ages 5 and 6. Furthermore out deepest apologies for not having denounced this when he was still alive.