CubaBrief: Cuban artist and prisoner of conscience Maykel Castillo Pérez Osorbo turned 40 years old in a Cuban prison today.

Maykel Castillo Pérez Osorbo in the Patria y Vida video.

Maykel Castillo Pérez Osorbo is an artist, husband, father, and an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience who today marked his 40th birthday behind bars, and on May 18, 2023 marked two years in prison for exercising his fundamental rights. Freedom House observed Maykel’s birthday today over social media.

On August 1, 2023  Amnesty International reported that Maykel has been threatened by fellow inmates where he is being held since April 2023, and the Cuban authorities have not ensured his safety.

Maykel Castillo Pérez Osorbo in the studio.

Imagine for a moment spending 24 months behind bars, 730 days unjustly imprisoned and not provided adequate healthcare, and 17,520 hours to reflect on this outrage. Please engage in an exercise in empathy. Take out your watch or cell phone and sit in silence for one minute as time passes, and imagine that minute multiplied 1,051,200 times.

Maykel Castillo Pérez Osorbo backed by Cubans in the San Isidro neighborhood.

Below is an example of one of the protest music videos that contributed to Maykel’s imprisonment by the Cuban dictatorship. Send a message to the Cuban government for its arbitrary detention of this artist and human rights defender, and over a thousand others more, sign the petition to expel Cuba from the UN Human Rights Council.

Amnesty International, August 1, 2023

Cuba: Prisoner of Conscience Maykel Osorbo in Danger

August 1, 20231,

Index Number: AMR 25/7078/2023

First UA: 76/23 Index: AMR 25/7078/2023 Cuba Date: 1 August 2023

URGENT ACTION

CUBA: PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE MAYKEL OSORBO IN DANGER

Maykel Castillo Pérez, also known as “MaykelOsorbo” is a Cuban musician and prisoner of conscience who has faced constant harassment and arbitrary detentions. On May 18, 2021, state security agents arrested
him at his home. In June 2022, he was sentenced to nine years in prison. Since April 2023, there are reports that indicate that he has been threatened by fellow inmates in his detention area, and the Cuban

authorities have not ensured his safety.

TAKE ACTION: WRITE AN APPEAL IN YOUR OWN WORDS OR USE THIS MODEL LETTER

Miguel Díaz-Canel, President of Cuba
Hidalgo Esq. 6, Plaza de La Revolución, CP 10400, La Habana, Cuba

Email: despacho@presidencia.gob.cu

Dear President,

I am writing to bring attention to the case of the musician Maykel Castillo Pérez, who has been subjected to unjust detention, harassment and violent threats while in prison.

According to information received by Amnesty International, Maykel has resorted to extreme measures, such as sewing his mouth shut, as a form of protest against the violent threats by fellow inmates and

security officers in the prison since April 2023.

His family informed Amnesty International that Maykel’s current health status is a significant concern. He suffers from swollen lymph nodes, and unfortunately, the prison authorities have not provided

transparent and trustworthy medical diagnoses, adding to the uncertainty and fear surrounding his well-being.

Amnesty International sent an open letter to your office on May 18, 2023, highlighting the threats Maykel’s had received and asking for his immediate release. Regrettably, as of now, no response has
been received regarding this matter. Maykel Castillo Pérez is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
I strongly urge you to take immediate action and order the unconditional release of Maykel Castillo Pérez. Furthermore, I ask you to protect Maykel from the harassment and threats he is receiving in prison.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
Sincerely,

First UA: 76/23 Index: AMR 25/7078/2023 Cuba Date: 1 August 2023

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Maykel Castillo Pérez, more commonly known by his artistic name: “MaykelOsorbo”, is a Cuban musician. He is also one of the authors of the son “Patria y Vida” two times Grammy Latino winner, that has become a protest anthem for its critical view of the Cuban government.

The musician has been subjected to constant harassment by authorities and arbitrarily detained several times. On May 18, 2021, state security agents detained the musician at his home, and for the 10 days following his arrest,

refused to provide information on his whereabouts to family and loved ones. In January 2022, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Castillo Pérez had been arbitrarily detained and said the Cuban government should release him immediately.

The UN experts found that Castillo Pérez had been detained for exercising his fundamental rights and had suffered due process violations, including abusive limitations to his right to defend himself. In June 2022, the
Popular Municipal Court of Central Havana sentenced Maykel Castillo to nine years in prison. Castillo is still currently in the “5 y Medio” prison, in Pinar del Río, Cuba in poor health with limited access to quality medical care.

Cuban authorities haven’t responded to the request of Castillo Pérez to leave the country with his family. He and his family were approved to travel to the United States at the beginning of 2023.

Since the beginning of April 2023, the organization started receiving reports that Maykel has been harassed and threatened by other prisoners to harm him after authorities installed a camera in the area where he is detained.

Maykel made the complaint to the Cuban authorities, who have not yet given him a response to guarantee his safety.

On 12 July Maykel sewed his mouth shut and tattooed “Patria y vida” (Homeland and life) in protest against the threats to his life from fellow inmates and state security agents that he has been receiving for months. The next day, the authorities removed the stitches from Maykel’s mouth and informed him that, as punishment, he would be denied visits from his family.

He was placed in solitary confinement on 14 July. In his latest call to his friends on 18 July, Osorbo said: “It’s not enough because I have enough strength to keep bleeding. I understand why they repress me, and I will continue to endure. A few days, nine months, or thirty years are not enough, as, in the end, since I was born, you have caused me harm. It’s not enough that they lock me up in a prison, lying to my people, extorting my career. I prefer with great pride to descend in a coffin than to bow (…).”

Since May 2023, Amnesty International have denounced the threats to Maykel’s life, but the Cuban authorities have ignored these calls.

YOU CAN WRITE APPEALS IN: Spanish or English
SEND APPEALS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, AND NO LATER THAN: November 2, 2023
PREFERRED NAME AND GRAMMATICAL GENDER: Maykel Castillo Pérez ‘MaykelOsorbo’ (male)

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr25/7078/2023/en/

ABC7NY, July 17, 2023

Imprisoned Cuban rapper sewed his mouth shut in protest of government’s mistreatment

By Conor Finnegan  

Monday, July 17, 2023 4:45PM

A Cuban rapper, who helped write the 2021 Latin Grammy song of the year, reportedly sewed his own mouth shut to protest his alleged mistreatment in a maximum-security prison on the island, according to posts on his social media pages, other Cuban activists and his wife.

In a photo secretly taken in prison and posted on his Facebook page, Maykel “Osorbo”-one of dozens of political prisoners the Cuban government has held since widespread protests two years ago this month-is seen flipping off the camera with his lips shut. A second, more graphic photo posted on Instagram yesterday clearly shows the stitches on his mouth-and calls for protests in the Miami area this evening.

“He is fed up with the abuses and with being unjustly imprisoned when the whole world is raising its voice for his freedom,” Cuban artist and activist Anamely Ramos González wrote-sharing a poem she says Osorbo wrote in prison, and shared with her during a phone call Wednesday.

“They broke my head with cynicism, but what they couldn’t do was break me, too. While injustice collides, I will not close my arms or close my mouth, I sew it shut nonetheless,” the poem, as translated from Spanish reads.

Cuban authorities reportedly removed the stitches the following day, Osorbo’s wife told Martí Noticias after also speaking with him last week: “He was speaking strangely, like when you have injured lips, an injured mouth, like when you can’t speak. I don’t know how things are going to be from now on.”

While the act of protest is an extreme one, it’s not Osorbo’s first, as he participated in a hunger and thirst strike last year. But this protest coincides with the two-year anniversary of some of the largest island-wide protests Cuba had seen in decades-with demonstrators taking to the streets starting on July 11, 2021, often chanting the name of the award-winning song Osorbo helped pen, “Patria y Vida.”

The song, released months earlier in February 2021, is a play on the Cuban communist revolution’s slogan “patria o muerte”-which means “homeland or death.” After Osorbo was detained that May, the song’s title became protesters’ cry in response to the dire situation in Cuba-its crumbling economy hit hard by COVID-19, a drop in tourism, global inflation and government mismanagement-but those calls for “life” in July 2021 were met by a violent crackdown and ongoing oppression.

“Maykel Castillo Pérez is unjustly imprisoned for exercising his right to free expression, for writing a song, for criticizing his country’s government. His case is emblematic of the situation faced by independent artists, writers, journalists and human rights defenders in Cuba,” Ma Thida, chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said in a statement Friday-using Osorbo’s real name.

Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken marked the two-year anniversary of the so-called 11J protests by calling for the “immediate release of unjustly detained political prisoners” like Osorbo.

“The world will not forget those who bravely made their voices heard in the face of extreme repression, including the more than 700 individuals who remain in Cuban jails, condemned to prison sentences ranging up to 25 years for exercising their freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly,” he added in a statement.

https://abc7ny.com/imprisoned-cuban-rapper-sewed-his-mouth-shut-in-protest-of-governme/13515466/