Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Aug. 17, 1999.


HAVANA - Under police observation, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet today held a news conference to reveal that during his detention on Saturday Aug. 14 in the neighborhood of Pedro Betancourt, Matanzas, he suffered physical abuse. Government agents beat him severely. Dr. Biscet, president of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, also showed marks where he had been burned by a cigarette butt placed against his arm.

The beatings stopped only when some human rights activists who had been detained with him started shouting. Later, the activist leader was interviewed by an official from the Office of State Security (OSS). Then he was transferrred to a solitary confinement cell where he was stripped naked and beaten again. He next was placed in a walled cell where a plainclothes agent beat him about the ankles.

Later, Dr. Biscet was transferred to 100th and Aldabó streets, to the Office of the Department of Investigations in the Ministry of the Interior where he was subjected to psychological torture: Authorities demanded he fill out a 350-item psychiatric questionnaire. He was released later the same day. He refused to sign a document entitled the "Liberation and Warning Act" presented to him by OSS agents.

He said he was threatened with incarceration and other consequences if he organized any acts of resistance.

Dr. Biscet said also that the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights has prepared a series of meetings throughout the country so as to visit the homes of hunger strikers who acted in solidarity with those who held a hunger strike at 34 Tamarindo street during 40 days of civic protest.

The tour around the country has been given the name "Nonviolent Invasion." Dr. Biscet and another member of the Lawon Foundation had traveled to Pedro Betancourt in Matanzas to give a talk on civic resistance. He said this activity was within the legal limits and in no way violated the laws established by the government.

The opposition leader told the international press present - from NBC, BBC, Reuters and elsewhere - that he is a defender of human rights and that while they are being violated, he will defend them whether the violations are by this government or another. Dr. Biscet also presented a scientific study pertaining to seven cases in which fetuses that could have been rescued were murdered. This was taken from a document he presented to the State Attorney's Office of Cuba in 1998.

Dr. Biscet reaffirmed that he is not a dissident who is looking for fame. And he knows, he said, that his actions may cost him his freedom or even his life as well as problems for his family and friends. But he said he is only fulfilling the words of the Pope: "Be the protagonists of your own history."

The Lawton Foundation for Human Rights began with 28 members and today has only 12. Dr. Biscet said Diego Tintorero, the exile who carried out a protest in Baltimore and was subsequently beaten by Cuban baseball players and agents, has been named an honorary member of the foundation because he was wearing its T-shirt at the time of the protest.

Finally, the leader announced that with the upcoming Cumbre that will be held this fall in Havana, the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights is planning an extensive series of demonstrations.

Dr. Biscet said the violence against him could be a result of anti-government slogans found in his neighborhood,Lawton, on Aug. 13. That day also was Fidel Castro's 73rd birthday. The doctor said he had nothing to do with the slogans.

Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press.

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