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In response to the treatment and lack of due process provided to Maykel Castillo Pérez (commonly known as Maykel Osorbo) after his arbitrary arrest in May by the Cuban regime, CADAL, Freedom House, Freemuse, PEN America, and PEN International stand in support of the recently submitted report to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention by Prisoners Defenders and release the following joint statement to urge the international community to elevate efforts to protect Osorbo and other human rights defenders in Cuba:
“We condemn the persecution and arbitrary arrest of independent artist Maykel Osorbo by the Cuban regime on May 18th, 2021 and stand in support of Prisoners Defenders’ report submission to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In just three years, the Cuban regime has committed more than 120 repressive acts of all kinds against Osorbo in attempts to silence him from expressing his demands for fundamental freedoms and rights. Since his latest arbitrary arrest, he has not been guaranteed due process. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and should not be criminalized. The working group should investigate the case of Osorbo and publicly release its findings.
The case of Osorbo is emblematic of the situation human rights defenders face in Cuba. State-sponsored acts of violence and cases of arbitrary arrest have severely increased over the past year, hitting a peak in July with state-sponsored attacks on peaceful demonstrators. The international community must closely monitor systemic human rights violations occurring across the country and cast a critical eye when monitoring the cases of the hundreds to potentially thousands of people who have been documented as disappeared or arrested following the events of July 11th. This also includes monitoring the cases of 124 new political prisoners documented by Prisoners Defenders in July alone.”
Maykel Castillo Pérez, known in the cultural and activist universes as Maykel Osorbo, is a musician and author of independent music in Cuba. As a co-author of “Patria y Vida” (“Homeland and Life”) with other Cuban musicians, he has had unprecedented success. Since its release in February 2021, the song has served as a rallying cry of hope for demonstrations across the island. He is also a co-founder of Movimiento San Isidro (MSI), together with a large group of internationally recognized Cuban artists and intellectuals who also suffer the same state-sponsored discrimination and who raised their voices to denounce Decree Law 349. This 2018 law requires the Culture Ministry’s approval for public and private cultural activities and allows artistic production to be banned under arbitrary criteria.
Osorbo has been held in pretrial detention since May 18th, after being falsely accused of assault, resistance, evasion of prisoners and detainees, contempt, public disorder, and the “propagating the epidemic”. His detention followed 14 days of forced disappearance as communicated by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.
The provisional detention does not comply with international requirements or the Cuban criminal code. Osorbo has been held in the Kilo 5 y medio prison in Pinar del Río, more than 160 kilometers away from his relatives. This long-distance detention is uncommon for those being provisionally held and has subsequently impacted his legal defense efforts.
Osorbo has been denied the special habeas corpus procedure that was presented in favor of his freedom. His case has already merited the attention of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which granted him precautionary protection measures under Resolution 14/2021, on February 11th, 2021—which the Cuban government has ignored.
Cuba is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2021 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2020.
August 10, 2021