“El Sexto”, an internationally renowned dissident artist, has been imprisoned since Nov. 26, when he responded to Fidel Castro’s death by painting the words “he is gone” on a wall, The Washington Post notes.
“The regime’s attacks have been focused on groups seeking a democratic opening, including the Ladies in White, who are regularly assaulted and beaten for attempting to stage peaceful assemblies, and the National Patriotic Union of Cuba, a pro-democracy organization centered in the city of Santiago that was the target of a major sweep shortly before Christmas,” it adds.
The arrests confirm that the Cuban government continues to repress dissent and punish public criticism, according to Human Rights Watch’s latest World Report:
It now relies less than in past years on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public shaming, and termination of employment.
Amnesty has issued an Urgent Action alert for El Sexto, requesting that individuals please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
- Calling on the authorities to release Danilo Maldonado Machado (‘El Sexto’) immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;
- Calling on them to guarantee the peaceful right to freedom of expression, assembly and association including for dissident, opponent or activist voices and to repeal all legislation which unduly limits these rights;
- Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, he is provided with any medical care which he may require, in particular if he refrains to eat; that he is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated; and that he is granted regular access to family and lawyers of his choosing.