HAVANA, CUBA — One of Cuba’s most prominent Christian prisoners, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, has said he has been forced to watch abuses "that threaten the decorous behavior of a civilized society" but stressed he trusts God to one day end his "unjust sentence," in a letter published by BosNewsLife Saturday, March 3.
Dr. Biscet, a Christian pro-life activist and medical doctor who opposes abortion and the death penalty as well as the Communist regime, was sentenced to 25 years on April 7, 2003, in a massive crackdown on human rights activists across the island.
He earlier received a three-year jail term on charges of "disrespecting patriotic symbols" including hanging a Cuban flag upside down during a news conference.
Human rights group Amnesty International and other organizations consider Dr. Biscet, who also heads the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, a prisoner of conscience. Cuban leader Fidel Castro has reportedly called him a "crazy little man.’’
In a letter to his wife obtained by BosNewsLife, Biscet, 46, said it has been "very difficult for common prisoners to serve a prison sentence, all the more so for a man of peace confined for exercising his right to freedom of thought."
He explained that during "all these years in prison : he witnessed "ignominious things" he was unable to describe "due to their perversity ; acts that threaten the decorous behavior of a civilized society." However despite the apparent difficult situation in the in the maximum security Prison Combinado del Este in Havana, Dr. Biscet stressed he was not giving up his Christian faith.
"I am not frightened nor will I go back a step in regards to my ideas. I am here by my own free will to condemn and not to retract myself and will serve this unjust sentence until God in the Highest puts an end to it," said Dr Biscet who has apparently been pressured by authorities to give up his Christian faith and human rights views.
"Everything has been so excessive and arbitrary that, the tribunal that condemned me, did not pronounce the sentence until three days after the trial had concluded," he also wrote his wife. "At that moment I felt their disloyalty to justice. I am convinced today of the fear they felt when they convicted an innocent man and put him to live with the scum of society," Dr. Biscet added.
His wife, Elsa Morejon Hernandez, told BosNewsLife in a statement that as a registered nurse she was concerned about the prison conditions.
"The prison cell where he is forced to live is unfit for long term confinements, " she said. "No human being [can] escape illness. [The prison] is full of humidity, whitewashed walls [and] lacking a mattress. [There is also] no light nor ventilation or a chair to sit on."
In addition she noticed during rare family visits "excessive noise, little privacy, restricted family contact, a hostile environment, as well as other factors that place at high risk his health and life."
Morejon Hernandez, said the apparent poor prison conditions have impacted the health of her husband. He suffers of a "total deterioration of his dental health, recurring infections treated with antibiotics and painkillers, and symptoms of high blood pressure, a condition [he] endured for many years that is treated with…tablets," she said, adding that his family provides him with all medication.
"He is progressively loosing his eyesight and has pain in his joints. More than 100 prisoners found in his prison subdivision consume the same food rations that are taken to his cell," his wife noticed. "Like my husband, the prisoners subsist thanks to the foodstuff brought to the penitentiary by their families since prison food is unsuitable for human consumption."
Dr. Biscet, she said, is only "sporadically taken outside in the sunlight and, once a month, he is allowed to go out to walk in the open air."
In the past she has also expressed concerns about her own physical health because she is Dr. Biscet’s wife and the daughter of an ex-political prisoner. She has reportedly been attacked various times by government controlled mass media, who called her "wife of a counter-revolutionary chieftain…"
Cuban authorities have consistently denied reports of human rights abuses. Castro has also refused to recognize the word "dissidents" saying the at least dozens of political and Christian prisoners in the Communist island are "mercenaries of the United States" and against his revolution. (With reports from Cuba).