European Parliament honors Cuban dissenter

Dec. 15, 2010 at 5:41 PM
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STRASBOURG, France, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- A Cuban dissident had to thank the European Parliament for a human-rights prize by recorded message Wednesday.

Guillermo Farinas, a psychologist and journalist, was not allowed to travel to Strasbourg, France, to receive the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

He is the founder of Cubanacan Press, an independent agency that reports on political prisoners in Cuba.

Farinas has spent years in prison and has staged 23 hunger strikes. In July, he nearly died after a five-month hunger strike he began after the death of hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo. The government gave in to his plea and freed 52 political prisoners.

"Even though activists like Guillermo Farinas are persecuted and are imprisoned, their voice cannot be silenced. The role of the European Parliament is to amplify that voice," said Parliament President Jerzy Buzek.

In a recorded message, Farinas said, "Unluckily for those who misgovern us in our own homeland, the fact that I cannot leave and return voluntarily to the island where I was born is, in itself, the most irrefutable witness to the fact that unfortunately, nothing has changed in the autocratic system ruling my country."

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