HAVANA – A paraplegic political prisoner is suffering a serious health crisis, the unofficial Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, or CCDHRN, said Thursday.
Ariel Sigler Amaya, 47, is being treated at a hospital in Havana, CCDHRN chairman Elizardo Sanchez told Efe.
“The government is aware that he is very ill and they don’t release him for political reasons,” Sanchez said of Sigler, designated by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.
Brothers Ariel and Guido Sigler were among the 75 dissidents arrested in the “Black Spring” crackdown of 2003. The Siglers, who belonged to the Alternative Option movement, were sentenced to long prison terms on charges of undermining Cuban independence.
Ariel Sigler became sick behind bars and ended up in a wheelchair due to a neurological problem linked to inadequate nutrition, according to the CCDHRN.
Sanchez said Sigler’s is not the only case of political prisoners falling ill because of insufficient or substandard food.
The CCDHRN last month issued a list of 25 severely ill prisoners to refute claims by the communist government that Cuban prisons did not hold any inmates with serious health problems.
Fifty-three of the “Group of 75” remain incarcerated. Nineteen have been paroled on medical grounds – one of whom died after his release – and another prisoner, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, perished in February after an 85-day hunger strike to demand better treatment.
President Raul Castro’s government denies that Cuba has any political prisoners, denouncing jailed dissidents as “mercenaries” n the pay of the United States, but the CCDHRN puts the number of people being held for political reasons at roughly 200. EFE