BUDAPEST/HAVANA (BosNewsLife)– One of Cuba’s most known “political prisoners” has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Hungary’s prime minister and other prominent politicians, a well-informed advocacy group confirmed Monday, February 14.
Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a devoted Christian, “was nominated [for the Prize] by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Lord David Alton of the UK House of Lords, and individual members of the UK, US and Canadian legislatures,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
CSW Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston told BosNewsLife that his group “has supported Dr. Biscet for over ten years” and that his group therefore welcomes “and support his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.”
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The 49-year-old medical doctor is among at least eight remaining political prisoners held since a massive government crackdown on dissidents during what became known as as the Black Spring of 2003, according to CSW investigators.
Cuba’s government under President Raul Castro agreed to release 52 of the Black Spring prisoners in a deal brokered by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and Spanish government in July 2010. Last week dissidents Hector Maseda and Angel Moya were released.
However Dr. Biscet, remained detained Monday, February 14, “entering the eighth year of a 25-year prison sentence because of his human rights activism,” CSW said.
Prosecutors defended the decision to jail him, saying he was involved in crimes relating to state security.
“Despite promises by the Cuban government in July 2010 to release political prisoners locked up during the Black Spring of 2003, the long-time human rights and democracy activist continues to languish in the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana.”
REFUSING TO LEAVE
Dr. Biscet refuses to leave the Communist-run island, a condition forced on the majority of the political prisoners who have been freed, CSW added. It was not immediately clear what impact, if any, the nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize would have on his prison conditions. “A devout Christian and pacifist, Dr. Biscet has at various times been denied his Bible, access to other religious materials and visits from a religious leader throughout his 10 years in prison,” CSW explained.
“Prior to his trial in 2003, Dr. Biscet was sentenced to and served three years in prison for “disorderly conduct” related to his pro-democracy work,” the groep said in a statement. “We call on the Cuban government to fulfill their promise to release Dr. Biscet and the seven other remaining prisoners without conditions as soon as possible,” added Johnston.
While Dr. Biscet was not yet released, the nomination for the Nobel Prize was expected to come be viewed as a moral boost for Cuban dissidents who demand more democracy and freedom of religion on the island of over 11 million people.
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel. The Norwegian Nobel Committee is to announce the winner, or winners of the Prize later this year. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).