World Medical Association pleads for doctors and dentists imprisoned in Cuba

The World Medical Association is pressing the Cuban Government for information on four physicians and two dentists who have been in prison in Cuba for the past two years for human rights activities. This month marks the second anniversary of their imprisonment.

The WMA is urging its 80 national medical association members to write to their governments and to the European Commission requesting them to put pressure on the Cuban government to disclose information about what, if any, trials the six are facing, the exact nature of their sentences and to ask for their fair and humane treatment in prison.

Depending on the answers it receives, the WMA says it might then call for the six to be released from prison. It is also asking the UN High Commission for Human Rights to intervene.

The WMA has written to the Cuban High Commissioner in Geneva requesting a meeting with the six doctors and dentists.

Dr Delon Human, secretary general of the WMA, said: We are particularly concerned about one of the six, Dr Oscar Elias Biscet, who has been in poor health, and this has been exacerbated by his imprisonment in an underground dungeon.'

The other five are Dr. Marcelo Cano Rodriguez, Dr. José Luis Garcia Paneque, Dr. Luis Milàn Fernàndez and the two dentists, Alfredo Manuel Pulido Lopez and Ricardo Enrique Silva Gual.

In his letter to the Cuban High Commissioner, Dr Human writes: 'It is the position of the WMA that the human rights of patients, health professionals and indeed all citizens should be assured by the State, especially related to their right to health care. We would like to inform you that we will also be writing the President of Cuba in this regard.'

Note to editors:
The six doctors and dentists are:

DR. OSCAR ELÍAS BISCET GONZÁLEZ, 42 years old, president of the unofficial Fundación Lawton de Derechos Humanos, Lawton Human Rights Foundation. He has been detained more than two dozen times, charged with 'insult to the symbols of the homeland,' 'public disorder,' and 'incitement to commit an offence'.
During his imprisonment he was considered by Amnesty International to be a prisoner of conscience. He is currently imprisoned in Prison Kilo 8 in the province of Pinar del Rio, sharing a cell with twelve other prisoners.

DR. MARCELO CANO RODRÍGUEZ, 38 years old, is National Coordinator of the unofficial Colegio Médico Independiente de Cuba, Cuban Independent Medical Association, an association of medical professionals around the island.

DR. JOSÉ LUIS GARCÍA PANEQUE, aged 38, is a plastic surgeon by training and also a member of the unofficial Cuban Independent Medical Association. He has been involved in journalism, as director of the independent news agency Libertad and member of unofficial Sociedad de Periodistas, Journalists' Society.

DR. LUIS MILÁN FERNÁNDEZ is a member of the Cuban Medical Association. In June 2001 he and his wife, also a doctor, signed a document called 'Manifiesto 2001,' calling among other measures for recognition of fundamental freedoms in Cuba. Together with other health professionals they carried out a one-day hunger strike to call attention to the medical situation of detainees and other issues.

ALFREDO MANUEL PULIDO LÓPEZ, aged 42, a dentist, worked as a journalist for the unofficial news agency El Mayor in Camagüey.

RICARDO ENRIQUE SILVA GUAL, also a dentist, is a member of the Christian Liberation Movement.