Thursday, February 24, 2011

Orlando Zapata Family pay tribute to his grave without incident

Relatives of the late Cuban prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo, whose death marks one year on Wednesday, paid tribute today to his grave in the cemetery of Banes (Holguín Province, east) without incident. Zapata's mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo said that at dawn on Wednesday the family was able to visit the cemetery without problems, amid "strong police operation" displayed in the town in recent days.

"We were able to reach the cemetery, pray, put lots of flowers, we did a minute of silence and shouted" Zapata lives "and" long live human rights', "said Tamayo. As stated, only attended by a group of 12 relatives for state security not allowed to arrive at the cemetery internal opposition members.

He noted that on the road and around the cemetery and police found "hidden mobs", but "away" and there was no incident. Reina Luisa Tamayo also said Immigration officials had visited his house today for passport formalities family after last week received U.S. visas as political refugees.

A total of 13 relatives of Orlando Zapata planning to emigrate to the United States, although there remains the exhumation and cremation of the deceased inmate's body, as the family requires to leave the island with his ashes. Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a 42 year old construction worker sentenced in the crackdown of March 2003, died in a Havana hospital on 23 February last year after a hunger strike for 85 days in jail with asking to be treated as a prisoner of conscience, recognized condition that Amnesty International.

His death caused a wave of criticism inside and outside the island against the Cuban government, which reported an "incredible" media campaign against him, but months later began a process of releases of political prisoners still in progress. In the island several opponents plan to do today to honor Zapata activities, while measures have been reported and "preventive detention" of the Government to prevent such acts.

According to the opposition Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), in the past 48 hours there were at least 46 arrests "preemptive short" and 54 arrests of dissidents in different parts of the island. Laura Pollan, leader of the Ladies in White (relatives of prisoners), said he hopes to meet on Wednesday to 40 to 60 women from that group in his home in central Havana, for a "vigil" after Zapata, but certainly all can go.

Pollan said that security officers have surrounded the area around the house and are closing off some nearby streets while they have already arrested some of the women waiting to get to the vigil. In addition, said the Tuesday night security visited to ask him to not perform the activity, and think about its impact on the process of releases of political prisoners.

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