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Dissident's hunger strike slammed as 'blackmail'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-08

The Cuban government has slammed the hunger strike of dissident Guillermo Farinas as "blackmail" in the government-controlled newspaper Granma. Farinas started the strike following the death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata on Feb. 23.

AFP - Cuba slammed dissident journalist Guillermo Farinas's 12-day hunger strike as "blackmail" on Monday, rejecting his demand to free 26 political prisoners who need medical care.

Farinas, 48, began his 23rd hunger strike, refusing all food and drink, a day after political prisoner Orlando Zapata died on February 23, 85 days into a hunger strike to protest prison conditions.

"Cuba, which has demonstrated many times its respect for human life and dignity, will not accept pressure or blackmail," the government-controlled newspaper Granma said in the first article on the matter to be published in the Cuban press.

Zapata's death drew international outrage, with rights groups calling on Cuba to release all political prisoners.

Farinas was hospitalized Wednesday after fainting, two days after two government doctors and a nurse found him to be very dehydrated during a medical visit. But the dissident has refused treatment, saying he is ready to die for his cause.

"In this case, it is not medicine that must resolve a problem created with the intent to discredit our political system but the patient himself and the stateless people, foreign diplomats and the media who manipulate him," Granma added, accusing Farinas of being an agent for US and European interests.

"The consequences will be his responsibility, and his alone."

It said that successive hunger strikes had weakened Farinas's group.

"If he is alive today, it must be said that it is thanks to the skilled medical attention he received despite his status as a mercenary," the official newspaper added.

"A doctor must respect the decision of someone who has begun a hunger strike. This is why we cannot force-feed him, as US authorities do regularly in prisons and in torture sites at Guantanamo (Cuba), Abu Ghraib (Iraq) and Bagram (Afghanistan) in violation of prisoners' rights."
 

Date created : 2010-03-08

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