Press Advisory: CFC statement on the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his call for an inquiry into Cuban dissidents killings

Press Advisory

CFC statement on the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his call for an inquiry into Cuban dissidents killings

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1931 – 2021)

“Mourning the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu at age 90. Remember with gratitude the Archbishop’s solidarity with the Cuban people in 2013, when he joined with others in appealing for an international inquiry into the July 22, 2012, killings of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero. Desmond Tutu, in his struggle against the Apartheid regime, demonstrated with both his voice and actions the power of nonviolent struggle in bringing an end to that racist regime. We also remember his words on being neutral in questions of justice, and his observation resonates with Cubans today. ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.’ Our prayers and thoughts are with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, his family, and friends,” said John Suarez, Executive Director, Center for a Free Cuba.

Background information

Attached attached signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2013 for an inquiry into the July 22, 2012, killings of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero.

[Updated on March 22, 2013. The spokesman of UNSG Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the appeal in this UN briefing.]

Appeal for International Inquiry into the Death of Oswaldo Paya

An open letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, and Ambassadors of all Member States

12 March 2013

We urge you to support our demand for an international and independent investigation into the alleged murder of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, a world-renowned figure and recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, who died in a car crash in Bayamo, Cuba, on July 22, 2012, together with fellow activist Harold Cepero.

In dramatic new testimony by the driver of the car, Ángel Carromero describes, in a Washington Post interview dated 6 March 2013, how their vehicle was followed, harassed and ultimately rammed from behind by a car bearing government license plates. Mr. Carromero further alleges that, following the crash, he was drugged, mistreated and coerced by Cuban authorities into making a false confession.

The new revelations corroborate the claims made by the families of the victims and other witnesses, as well as the report by Spain’s ABC news agency about text messages sent contemporaneous with the incident from the mobile phones of Mr. Carromero and another passenger, Aron Modig, indicating that their car was chased and then hit, causing the crash.

Significantly, according to the family of Oswaldo Payá, state security agents had repeatedly threatened to kill him.

Mounting and credible allegations that the Cuban government may have been complicit in the murder of its most prominent critic, a leading figure in the human rights world, cannot go ignored by the international community.

The families of the victims, and the people of Cuba, have a right to know the truth, and they have a right to justice. This can only happen with the creation of an international and independent inquiry. We therefore respectfully urge you to support our call.


  1. Armando Calderon Sol, former President of El Salvador
  2. Alfredo Cristiani, former President of El Salvador
  3. Luis Alberto Lacalle, former President of Uruguay
  4. Alejandro Toledo, former President of Peru
  5. Luis Alberto Monge, former president of Costa Rica
  6. Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of European Parliament
  7. Markus Meckel, former Foreign Minister of Germany
  8. Irwin Cotler, MP, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
  9. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate
  10. Zbigniew Romaszewski, former Speaker of Polish Senate, a founder of the Solidarity movement
  11. Stanislav Shushkevich, former president of Supreme Soviet of Belarus, a current opposition leader in Belarus
  12. Arnold Vaatz MP, Deputy Leader CDU, Germany
  13. Emma Henriksson MP, Group leader, The Christian Democrats, The Swedish National Parliament
  14. Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, former Foreign Minister of Iceland
  15. Mantas Adomênas MP, Lithuania

[ Full list of signatures here ]