Activist brutally beaten and left unconscious after offering support to participants of national fast

Havana, September 19, 2007. Former political prisoner and president of the opposition movement For a New Republic,  José Díaz Silva, was savagely beaten by the Calabazar political police in the municipality of Boyeros for participating in a non-violent march following a mass offered for the freedom of all Cuban political prisoners.

On September 14th, 21 members of the Martí Civic Movement, the For a New Republic Movement, and other opposition groups gathered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Infante to participate in a mass offered for the freedom of all political prisoners. After the celebration, the participants marched peacefully from the church to a house in which a fast was being carried out for the freedom of all Cuban political prisoners, in support of the Non-cooperation campaign and the rejection of the electoral farce. This fasting center- one of the many that exist throughout the country- is located on Carlos III Avenue in Havana.
Activist José Díaz Silva was arrested by the political police at about 5:30 in the morning after returning to his home in Santiago de las Vegas. According to statements made by his wife to the Cuban Democratic Directorate, Díaz Silva was taken to the police station and locked in a cell without any explanation. At 7:30 in the morning, once again according to statements made by his wife, four police officers entered his cell and took him out. One of them asked him: “Are you the big mouth?”, and struck his face. Díaz Silva answered: “What you are doing is cowardly. Men should not be hit in the face”. Following his response, the three other police officers also struck him. Díaz Silva responded with cries of “Cowards!” and “Murderers!”, to which the Lieutenant Colonel responded by ordering that he be taken handcuffed to an office where seven police officers beat him severely, to the point that they fractured his skull and his septum. The activist was also beaten in the chest and back.
Finally, one of the police officers grabbed him in a chokehold and blocked his respiration until he became unconscious. When he regained consciousness, Díaz Silva was driven to the Calabazar policlinic by the same police that beat him, where even as he sat waiting for medical attention, one of the police officers involved hit him again on his chin and back. The doctor in charge of treating his injuries was ordered not to report the events. His medical records were handed over to the police. After being returned to his cell, the activist was released at 3:30 p.m., after being informed that although charges would not be brought against him, he would be under investigation.
José Díaz Silva has been conditionally released until December 2008, when he will have to return to prison to serve four years on charges of “social dangerousness with criminal disposition”.
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Agnes Koleman has been visiting Cuban since 1997. She is long time admirer of Cuban people and hopes Cuba will soon will become a democratic country.