Maykel Castillo Pérez, better known as Maykel Osorbo, Cuban musician and rapper, member of the San Isidro Movement, has recently been awarded two Latin Grammys for being co-author and interpreter of “Patria y Vida”, and has been imprisoned since May 2021 in the maximum security prison 5 and a half, in Pinar del Río.
Recently, Maykel began to show alarming symptoms of deterioration in his health. From prison, Maykel sent a message of gratitude for the awards, in retaliation, and despite his delicate health, the Cuban authorities have sanctioned Maykel by incommunicado from his family for three months.
“We condemn the mistreatment that Maykel Castillo Pérez is receiving in prison, unjustly imprisoned for exercising his right to artistic freedom and expression. Once again, we demand his immediate release and adequate medical attention. The Cuban authorities are implementing cruel methods to silence him that, evidently, violate human rights.
We recall that, in just three years, more than 120 repressive acts of all kinds have been committed against Osorbo in an attempt to intimidate him into not expressing his demands for freedoms and fundamental rights. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and should not be criminalized ”, declare the Artist at Risk Connection of PEN America, CADAL, Freedom House, Freemuse, PEN International and Prisoners Defenders.
“In Maykel’s current situation, it is essential that we continue in communication with him to find out his health. The measure of leaving him incommunicado for three months constitutes an act of extreme cruelty and a further violation of his human rights. For a Cuban political prisoner there is no possibility of reliable medical care within the country, which is why Maykel is asking to be allowed to leave Cuba for medical treatment, ”said Anamely Ramos, activist and member of the San Isidro Movement.
Osorbo was arrested on May 18, 2021 when he was at home and was subjected to enforced disappearance for 14 days. In the last 3 years, Osorbo has suffered at least 121 repressive police acts of all kinds, including multiple arrests. On one of these occasions, on September 24, 2018, he was arrested after performing at a concert in which he and other rappers publicly opposed Decree 349, a law that, by regulating all artistic expression in Cuba, silences those who are against the government.
Osorbo is also one of the founders of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), a group of Cuban artists and intellectuals founded in 2018 to protest against state censorship of artistic, literary or journalistic works and defend freedom of expression in Cuba.
On February 11, 2021, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favor of 20 members of the MSI, including Osorbo, after considering that, as human rights defenders, they run a serious and urgent risk of suffering irreparable damage to your rights. Osorbo has not had access to a fair trial and, according to the testimony of his relatives, he is receiving threats from the authorities inside the prison.
Maykel has been named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and his case has been presented to the United Nations Committee on Forced Disappearance by Prisoners Defenders, through a complaint supported by various international organizations.
Recently, PEN International included Maykel Osorbo in its international campaign for the Day of the Incarcerated Writer in which PEN centers around the world spoke of his unjust detention. For its part, on November 18, CADAL launched a petition demanding the freedom of Cuban rapper Maykel Osorbo, arrested on May 18 on charges of “resistance, contempt and disobedience.”
Similarly, Freemuse has included Maykel’s case in actions aimed at making his situation visible, such as in the “tRAPped” campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about the harassment and persecution suffered by rappers around the world because of their artistic expressions.
The case of Maykel Osorbo, emblematic, is one more example of the systematic repressive policy of the Cuban government on freedom of expression through the persecution of critical voices. Acts of violence generated by the state and the number of arbitrary arrests against activists and civilians have risen sharply in the last year, reaching an all-time high in July with government attacks on peaceful protesters.
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International organizations demand the immediate release of Maykel Osorbo, winner of the Latin Grammy