Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet.
Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet
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Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, Physician and Human Rights Advocate, 25 year sentence
Dr. Biscet has long been persecuted and imprisoned for exercising and promoting human rights. Before his most recent imprisonment, he was president and founder of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, a group that uses non-violent civic protest in order to promote and protect respect for human rights in Cuba. After releasing a statistical report on behalf of the Lawton Foundation that reported on diseases caused by methods of pregnancy termination in his neighborhood, Dr. Biscet was fired and prohibited from practicing medicine. His family was also evicted from their home. On Feb. 27, 1999, Dr. Biscet was arrested and sentenced to three years' imprisonment for flying a Cuban flag sideways at a press conference in an act of civil disobedience.
Following his release, he was rearrested on Dec. 6, 2002, after organizing seminars for Cubans on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dr. Biscet was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison on April 7, 2003. Despite the fact that he lives in and was sentenced in Havana, Dr. Biscet is being held far from his family on the eastern tip of the island in Pinar del Rio. He was sentenced under Article 91 of the Cuban Penal Code. Dr. Biscet has been imprisoned solely for expressing his non-violent beliefs and opinions.
He was being held in what was described as an "underground dungeon" where he was not exposed to any light for approximately one month. Dr. Biscet was sharing this cell with an inmate convicted of violent assault and murder.
On January 15, 2004, he was moved to a larger cell with 12 common prisoners. His health is believed to be deteriorating rapidly, and he is in urgent need of medical attention. Elsa Morejón, Dr. Biscet's wife, reported that "Oscar has lost close to 40 pounds, is extremely pale and has no appetite…I don't recognize my husband after not seeing him for four months." Elsa Morejón is a nurse. Cuban authorities told Dr. Biscet's wife that he was being held in isolation and was not permitted to receive visitors because he had declared himself a "plantado", a political prisoner who refuses to comply with prison discipline and to wear a common prisoner's uniform. Family members are urgently calling on the international community to intervene on behalf of the imprisoned dissident.