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REGIONS:

Two more writers released, exiled to Spain

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN is pleased to note the release of two more Cuban writers imprisoned since 2003. Librarian and activist José Miguel Martínez Hernández arrived in Madrid on 24 September 2010, while journalist and activist Miguel Galván Gutiérrez arrived the following day; both travelled to Spain with their families. With their release, a total of 18 Cuban writers have now been freed and exiled since 12 July under a deal brokered by the Catholic Church and the Spanish government. While the WiPC is pleased that these writers are no longer imprisoned, it is extremely concerned that they have been obliged to leave Cuba as a precondition of their release. It calls on the Cuban government to make their release unconditional and to allow them to return to Cuba should they so wish. It also continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the seven other Cuban writers, journalists and librarians still in prison for their writings.

Details of the two most recently released writers:

Miguel Galván Gutiérrez - journalist (Havana Press agency) and coordinator of the pro-democracy Varela Project. Date of birth: 12 January 1965. Sentence: 26 years. Charge: Article 91 and Law 88. Honorary Member: Sydney PEN Centre.

José Miguel Martínez Hernández - librarian (General Juan Bruno Zayas Library), area representative for the unofficial political group Movimiento 24 de Febrero, and involved in the pro-democracy Varela project. Date of birth: 4 August 1963. Sentence: 13 years. Charge: Law 88.

With Galván and Martínez' release, a total of 18 Cuban writers have now been freed and sent to Spain since 12 July. All were apparently forced into exile. Galván reportedly said he wanted to stay in Cuba but decided to leave for the sake of his family, while Martínez told the media on arrival that "exile was our only alternative."

Officials from the Spanish Foreign Ministry have now reportedly stated that the remaining imprisoned journalists will be able to stay in Cuba under a special parole programme. However, human rights activists in Cuba say that this would be a way to maintain control over the writers after their release. The existence of the parole programme in question has yet to be confirmed by the Cuban government.

According to the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, the remaining members of the Group of 75 jailed since March 2003 - which includes another four writers - will all be released by the end of October. The European Union is due to review its Common Position on Cuba this autumn. Spain is reportedly campaigning for all remaining sanctions to be lifted.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the authorities:
- welcoming the release of two more writers, José Miguel Martínez Hernández and Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, as well as the Cuban government's reported intention to release the four other writers who have been imprisoned since March 2003
- expressing deep concern that the writers who have been freed to date have reportedly been obliged to leave Cuba as a precondition of their release
- calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the seven writers, journalists and librarians still held in violation of their right to freedom of expression, four of whom have been imprisoned since 2003


APPEALS TO:

Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 833 3085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs) / +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: cuba@un.int (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency

Interior Minister
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +53 7 833 3085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs) / +1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister

Please send also appeals to diplomatic representatives of Cuba in your country.

Please send appeals immediately. Check with the WiPC if sending appeals after 28 November 2010.
What other IFEX members are saying

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We must urge gov’ts to protect #journalists and decrease #impunity, says IFEX’s @AnnieGame: http://t.co/rO65mtFlnu #EndImpunity