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Empty chair at Sakharov Prize ceremony

Cuba denies visa to dissident Farina

La Havana refused to allow the expatriation of Guillermo Farinas, the activist whose hunger strikes led to the release of 52 political prisoners. Empty chair in Strasbourg, where Farinas was awaited for delivery of the Sakharov prize. Two empty chairs have been left this week at important international ceremonies: the one for Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese signatory of Charter '08, and now this further proof of the indifference of Communist regimes towards human rights.

21 October
Guillermo Farinas wins Sakharov Prize
the Cuban dissident : "I want to go receive it in Europe"

The European Parliament assigned its free thought award to Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas.

Guillermo Farinas is 48, he is a doctor specialized in Psychology, known for his journalistic and civicl commitment. He served longer than 11 years a jail sentence and ran at least 23 hunger strikes. Last February Farinas started fasting to protest against the death of dissident Orlando Zapata and ask for the political prisoners' release. His protest lasted for 135 days and was only interrupted when the Catholic Church announced that the Government would release 52 conscience prisoners.

"It is not an award for Guillermo Farinas" - the dissident said in his Santa Clara house, 270 km away from Havana - "but for the whole Cuban people, which has been struggling to overcome dictatorship for 50 years. We, the peaceful opponents, are the movement's most visible face".

The activist declared he is ready to defy the Government again: "I want to go to Europe" to receive the Prize, he said. "Let's see if they are going to let me go". Farinas doesn't exclude fasting again unless Raoul Castro lets him reach Strasbourg.

It's the third time that the Sakharov Prize is awarded to a representative of the Cuban opposition: in 2002 the important recognition was given to activist Oswaldo Payà and in 2005 to the Damas de blanco. a movement gathering all relatives of the political prisoners detained in the island's jails.

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15 December 2010

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Freedom of expression

against blinkered thinking

Freedom of thought is usually the first of the fundamental rights of the human being to be targeted by authoritarian regimes, and this applies increasingly the closer it gets to the prototype of totalitarian society. Censorship muzzles the press and journalists are prevented from doing their job, 'till the point in which they are reduced to a mere mouthpiece of the state propaganda. Also the other free expressions of thought are under attack, no one is spared: intellectuals, writers, film directors... even figurative arts are under strict control. Repression heavily curbs all forms of individual sovereignty, such as above all opinions, personal ideas, which represent the worst threat for those who want to impose the "blinkered thought".
In fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, in maoist China and in the dictatorships of Latin America like in modern theocracies and new autocratic regimes, troublesome books were banned and even burnt on the squares, and the historian, scientists, scholars, artists who refused to line up were exiled or jailed.
Totalitarianism entered homes and imposed its grip within the family, which was dominated by the fear of being betrayed even by one's dearest ones. A mechanism of self-censorship thus started: in order to survive people preferred giving up not only expressing their views.. but even to conceive them. There was nothing left but settle for the doctrine expressed by the leaders on power.
Those who try to resist, to keep their own individual character and personal freedom, lose everything, but their independence, combined with the resistance of many other in the same conditions, undermines the very foundations of dictatorial regimes, until their collapse.

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